ND Small Business Development Centers
ND Small Business Development Centers

Powering the creation, growth, and success of small business in North Dakota.

October 2023

Welcome to Cybersecurity Month!

While you might think of pumpkin spice, what your kids want to be for Halloween, or “sweater-weather” during the month of October, we like to focus on raising awareness with our clients of the one thing typically not on their radar, but it should be!

Cyberattacks against small businesses have been on the rise in recent years. Despite the attitude among many small business owners that hackers only go after behemoths, smaller companies make increasingly attractive prey. Larger enterprises usually have solid cybersecurity protections in place, making them harder to infiltrate. (Source: CNBC). Small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) are the number one target for cybercriminals; according to a recent study from Accenture, 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, yet only 14% are adequately prepared to defend themselves.

Whether a company is considering adopting cloud computing or just using email and maintaining a website, cybersecurity needs to be a part of its daily operations. The simplest way a business uses the internet can leave it open to vulnerabilities, and it is often that these simple models are overlooked by the business as being unsafe, therefore not justifying the cost of protection, potentially leading to an attack. Cyber attacks on small businesses mean significant recovery costs, data loss, productivity, customers, revenue, and the possibility of going out of business. Here are a few stats that really hit where it hurts:

  • 87% of small businesses have customer data that could be compromised (even if they don’t think they do)
  • Beyond the damage a business sustains when breached, its customers may also be impacted through identity theft, privacy violations, etc.
  • 91% of all cyberattacks begin with a phishing email (an email that looks like it’s from someone you know but is actually from criminals).
  • 80% of all hacking incidents involve compromised credentials or passwords.
  • 55% of people in the U.S. would be less likely to continue doing business with breached companies.
  • In 2020 alone, over 700,000 attacks against small businesses, totaling $2.8 billion in damages.
  • 95% of cybersecurity incidents at SMBs cost between $826 and $653,587 – can your main street business afford that? Costs can spiral due to downtime, lost business, emergency solutions, fines, etc. Smaller businesses are frequently without emergency funds or insurance to cover these expenses. (Source: Verizon)
  • Nearly 40% of small businesses reported they lost crucial data due to an attack. Loss of sensitive customer data can also lead to customer lawsuits, and the payment of damages becomes a liability.
  • 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyber attack go out of business within six months (Source: U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance).

So, what can we do about it?

  1. We ask that you, our partners, help us share the importance of this topic for our small businesses across the state. This issue deserves attention with statistics like those above and the potential risk and aftermath.
  2. Then, send those small businesses to us! The ND SBDC has a cyber expert on our team to assist small businesses with a simple yet effective process to protect their business, data, and clients. It doesn’t take long and isn’t as complex or daunting as the topic feels.
  3. We also have a great toolkit on our website that guides a business through an online assessment of their current processes (or lack thereof) and identifies areas that could use improvement. Our Data Assured Guide is a great resource to take things one step at a time and is specifically written for small businesses (not larger businesses with cybersecurity budgets). Other tutorials and videos are available on this page for more information delivered in easy to understand language (not tech-talk!).
  4. Share the upcoming Second Annual Small Business Cyber Summit with small businesses through every possible avenue – put it on your social media, bulletin boards, and e-newsletters. Don’t forget to register yourself! Registration for the event is now open to all and free. The opening session kicks off on October 18, 2023.

This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, help us help small businesses get protected against cyberattacks!

Thanks for reading and taking action!

Tiffany Ford, State Director
And all the Staff of the ND Small Business Development Network

Additional resources:
Cyber Safety Tips for Small Business Owners from the U.S. Small Business Administration
The Impact of Cybersecurity On Small Business (sbir.gov)
Learn the basics for protecting your business from cyber attacks (ftc.gov)
Interested in entering the profession of Cyber-Security? The University of North Dakota offers Minor, Bachelor of Science, and Master of Science degrees in this field of study!



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All comments will be reviewed prior to posting.