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The Risk of Doing Business – How a Single Click Can Cost You

7-Steps to Reduce Click-Powered Cyber Threats

2024 opened with a cyberattack that crippled the healthcare industry, exposing vulnerabilities in third-party applications and a lack of post-recovery planning. A sign that cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated.

Today’s cyber landscape is fast-paced. Small/Medium Enterprises (SMEs) increasingly rely on online platforms to manage their operations, reach customers, and expand markets. But with great power, convenience, and opportunity comes something else: an abundance of external cybersecurity threats.  

But the greatest threat, ironically, comes from the inside.  An SME’s employees – its greatest asset – are also its greatest potential point of failure. Main Street merchants and global business giants can all be brought low with just a single click.

The Deceptive Danger of a Single Click

Remember those old pop-up ads? The ones with dancing animals or U.S. presidents that wanted you to click. Like whack-a-mole – a never-ending game with instant gratification. We’ve come a long way since those days, but so have cybercriminals. How? By switching their strategy to more legitimate-looking methods.

How many links in emails or online do your employees click every day?

Opening an email, browsing the web, downloading files and documents—it all seems so routine that there isn’t a second thought or glance given.

But everyday mundane actions – like a single click – are where the money’s at for cybercriminals. They’re perfect hiding spots for malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks – all at the ready for an employee’s finger to be fooled by the guise of legitimacy. And they’re just waiting for a single user click to launch their payload and unleash chaos into the heart of your business.

In fact, SMEs face the highest risk of targeted malicious emails: one out of every 323 messages.

Now, consider for a moment the impact of those clicks. Hackers potentially gaining access to:

  • Sensitive company data
  • financial information
  • customer records and person – and protected – information (PII)

And an aftermath that includes, but is not limited to, operational disruption, financial loss, legal complications, and irreparable damage to your reputation. 

Understanding the True Impact on Your SME

But just how vulnerable is your business?

According to IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach:

  • Smaller organizations experienced a 20% increase in data breach costs compared to larger organizations, which had a 2.5% cost decrease.

And the cost of just one attack on your SME being successful extends far beyond your immediate financial implications. Over 75% of surveyed SMEs said they couldn’t continue operating after a successful breach. Direct costs associated with an attack, including recovery operations, legal fees, and penalties, are potentially staggering to your business. However, the indirect costs - loss of customer trust, reputational damage, and long-term financial stability - often deliver the fatal blow.

It’s a bleak scenario brought on by a simple yet effective vulnerability: human error.

Bleak – but not without hope.  

The good news is that cybersecurity is no longer a luxury for the most powerful enterprises but accessible and required for all businesses – no matter how small.  

So, the question stands. How can businesses, especially SMEs with limited resources, protect themselves against these omnipresent cyber threats – and potential danger that is just a click away?

The Solution to Mitigating Click-Powered Cyber Breaches

Multifaceted cyber threats triggered by seemingly innocuous clicks require a multifaceted, holistic defense that integrates both technology and human intuition, as well as continuous improvement to safeguard your business over the long term.

Here are the Top 7 recommendations to get your click risk under control:

  1. Employee Education and Awareness Training: Regular, interactive training sessions should be conducted to educate your employees about the dangers of phishing, malicious links, and unsafe online practices. Real-life examples, gamification, and simulation exercises can enhance engagement and retention, making them a strong first line of your company’s defense. Remember, your employees – and their fingers – are your first and last line of defense.
  2. Advanced Filtering Technologies: Deploy cutting-edge security solutions that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to identify and filter out threats like phishing emails and malicious attachments before they reach your end users. These technologies adapt to evolving threats, protecting you proactively against sophisticated scams. Your employees can’t click what doesn’t arrive in their inbox.
  3. Endpoint Protection Solutions: Implement comprehensive endpoint security beyond traditional antivirus software. Solutions that include behavioral analysis can detect and neutralize threats based on unusual activity rather than known malware signatures, protecting against zero-day threats that exploit clicks on malicious links.
  4. Regular Security Assessments and Penetration Testing: Conducting periodic security assessments and penetration tests can help identify vulnerabilities in your cyber defenses, including potential points of entry that could be exploited through malicious links. This proactive approach enables you to fortify your defenses before attackers can exploit your weaknesses.
  5. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Enforce multi-factor authentication across all critical systems and applications. MFA adds an additional layer of security, ensuring that the compromise of a single click or password does not lead to unauthorized access.
  6. Incident Response Plan: Have a well-documented and regularly updated incident response plan in place. This plan should outline clear procedures for responding to a cybersecurity incident, including steps to isolate affected systems, communicate with stakeholders, and recover compromised data.
  7. Continuous Monitoring and Threat Intelligence: Implement continuous monitoring tools to detect and respond to threats in real time. You can’t fix what you don’t know.  Integrating threat intelligence feeds can also provide insights into emerging threats and attack vectors, allowing you to adapt your defense strategies accordingly.

Innovation Spotlight: VikingCloud takes a different approach to assessing your cyber risk because we know that online threats come from many directions. That’s why we look at the top 5 key risk categories for your business, including Website Security, External Network Security, Internal Network Security, PCI Compliance Gaps, and Current Cybersecurity Tool Usage.

For example, check out VikingCloud’s recently announced CCS Advantage, an AI-powered, innovative, and integrated PCI compliance and cybersecurity solution.  At the heart of CCS Advantage is a sophisticated yet easy-to-understand Cyber Risk Score that evaluates your risk of doing business online.

Vulnerabilities are identified, benchmarked, and combined to create a single business-specific score on an A-F grade scale, providing an easy-to-understand indicator of potential cybersecurity risk - as well as best practice solutions and recommendations to keep your business uninterrupted.

Don’t Underestimate the Cost of a Click

Ignoring the dangers of a click could disrupt your business. However, you have the power—in your finger—to minimize your click risk and keep your Business Uninterrupted. Adopt a proactive cybersecurity strategy that follows these top recommendations to help protect your operations, safeguard your reputation, and secure your digital future.  



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Andrea Sugden
Chief Sales and Customer Relationship Officer

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