According to research, small businesses make up 43% of data breach victims.
The figure indicates how cybercriminals aren’t just targeting big companies, but are also pursuing Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SME) as well.
This is why SMEs need to take strong and reliable preventive measures that would protect them against cybercriminals.
One of the most effective methods to do this is by identifying network, system, and software vulnerabilities by running penetration tests to understand the weak spots that hackers could exploit.
However, with the intensive process involved in conducting a pen test, one can’t help but ask if it is a practical choice for SMEs considering the smaller size of their data and system infrastructure?
That’s what we will cover in this guide.
The security threats that are plaguing online businesses
Unfortunately, some of the most common cyber attacks can still leave massive damages to a company’s system infrastructure and steal loads of confidential business data.
Establishing effective preventive security measures, however, will require having knowledge about the enemy — that is, understanding the different types of attack and the potential methods of delivery.
A good starting point for SMEs is knowing the common ecommerce security threats that are plaguing online businesses today.
Malware, for instance, is still at the top of cybersecurity watchlists because this kind of attack can sneak around in the background of systems and apps and steal customer data.
The aftermath of a malware attack could cost businesses potentially thousands of dollars in damages, which is why it’s vital to take preventive steps against these types of threats.
Known vulnerabilities in third-party software and apps are also some things that SMEs should watch out for because these weaknesses are exploitable and present many security risks.
Penetration testing as a preventive measure
SMEs that prepare their business for common cyber threats have better chances of withstanding attacks.
It’s because businesses that use the right approach to assess their network and system vulnerabilities that hackers could use as potential points of entry can take the required steps to fix the security issues, and strengthen their protective measures.
This is exactly what penetration testing can help SMEs do.
Through pen testing, businesses can identify their network, web apps, and system security holes.
Testing will also test their security policy, their company’s adherence to compliance standards, and even the cybersecurity awareness of their employees and their ability to respond to threats properly.
By pen testing, businesses can assess the level of security awareness and training that their employees have to effectively handle threats like this, prioritize remediation actions, and make better strategic security decisions.
Prioritizing the security of customer data
Regardless of the size of the business, securing customer data should always be a priority as failure to do so can have legal and financial implications.
For example, SMEs that fail to comply with specific security standards when handling customer credit card data – such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) – can lead to hefty penalties.
Businesses that are victims of data breaches will also have a host of other problems that can negatively affect their bottom line since they’ll need to pay for credit monitoring for affected parties, data recovery services, forensic investigation, and more.
By conducting pen testing, however, SMEs can identify and prioritize their security vulnerabilities that need their utmost attention, establish preventive measures and the right controls, and reduce the risks of data breaches.
SMEs that take customer data privacy and protection seriously will not only avoid the financial and legal burdens that cyber threats can bring, but also maintain trust with their consumers.
After all, businesses that establish their credibility as a secure entity increase the chances of inspiring customer loyalty and maintaining excellent SME and consumer relationships.
Facing the risks of data breaches
One of the most commonly targeted aspects of a business is its website.
This is why it’s crucial that SMEs take steps to secure their website since it can present some of the biggest risks to data breaches.
For instance, a cyber attack aiming to steal customer data could cause massive downtimes that will leave websites non-functional — which can lead to customers looking for other options and causing loss of revenue of businesses.
However, the effects of a data breach don’t end at data loss and damages to the reputation of businesses — but it could also lead to SMEs losing their intellectual property.
Some hackers aim to steal a company’s strategies, blueprints, and designs instead of private information — which can, in some cases, be just as damaging as customer data loss.
Businesses could lose months or years worth of work — not to mention the costs, time. And energy a company has to spend to try and salvage what’s left of an attack.
Identifying weak points through penetration testing offers a solution because it allows business owners to assess where hackers can enter their systems to carry out an attack and take steps to mitigate the risks of data breaches.
The reality is that all types of businesses in different sizes, industries, etc., can become targets of attacks that lead to data breaches.
By investing in pen testing, SMEs can assess their vulnerabilities to attacks that aim to steal their business-critical data, fix weak security spots, and establish the right preventive security measures.
As hackers target smaller businesses and turn to more sophisticated methods of finding exploitable areas to deliver attacks, it’s more crucial than ever for SMEs to employ comprehensive preventive security measures.
By investing in penetration testing, SMEs can protect customer and business-critical data, strengthen security controls, and reduce the risks of their web apps, networks, and systems being vulnerable to attacks.
Plus, implementing penetration testing can cost less than the damages businesses will need to pay after a cyber attack.