Cybersecurity: The Stakes for Small Businesses in Ireland

October 10, 2023

If there's one undeniable truth that resonates across industries, it's that the digital age has brought with it a surge in cyber threats. What may be more surprising, however, is the shifting focus of these cyberattacks. No longer are large corporations the sole targets; increasingly, small businesses find themselves in the crosshairs of nefarious online activities.

MentorsWork believes the recent Aon research serves as a wake-up call for businesses with nearly one in five Irish firms having endured the sting of a cyberattack or data breach last year. Yet, concerningly, despite the rise in cyber threats and the subsequent awareness, more than a quarter of Irish business leaders don't see the urgency to increase investment in cybersecurity in the near future.

Why are Small Businesses Targeted?

  • Perceived Vulnerability: Many cybercriminals believe that small businesses have weaker defences than larger organisations, making them easy targets with a potentially high reward.
  • Valuable Data: Even small businesses handle valuable data, including customer details, credit card information, and other sensitive data - appealing targets for cybercriminals looking to steal or ransom this information.
  • Lack of Resources: Not all small businesses have the resources to invest heavily in cybersecurity. This might mean outdated software, lack of staff training, or no dedicated IT staff to handle security.

Beyond the immediate financial implications, a cyber breach can topple reputations built over years. As customers question trustworthiness, businesses can see cascading losses, both monetary and in customer goodwill leading to a potentially expensive game of catch-up.

Simple Steps to Boost Your Cybersecurity:

  • Educate Your Team: Most cyberattacks occur due to human error. Regular training can ensure that your employees are aware of potential threats and best practices to avoid them.
  • Regular Updates: Regularly update software, antivirus, and firewalls to benefit from essential security patches.
  • Backup Regularly: Always have backup copies of your important data ensuring that, in the event of a ransomware attack, it can’t be used for ransom.
  • Use Strong Passwords: Advocate for strong, unique passwords and implement two-factor authentication wherever possible.
  • Invest in Cyber Insurance: This can help cover the costs associated with a cyberattack, providing added financial security.

Taking the Next Steps

If you're a small business owner, it's crucial to understand that the threat of cyberattacks isn't distant — it's here, and it's now. Leverage the resources and guidance available from industry associations like the SFA, MentorsWork, the NCSC and the GNCCB.

For those who seek expert insights and strategies tailored to the unique challenges faced by SMEs, join our free MentorsWork Cybersecurity Masterclass on October 24th.