What You Need to Know This Cybersecurity Awareness Month


October often conjures up images of fall leaves, pumpkin lattes, and Halloween. But for IT Security professionals and organizations it’s something more; it’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

Now in its 18th year, Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a government and industry partnership initiative designed to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and provide information on how cybercrimes happen and how companies can be proactive to stop them.

State of cybersecurity for SMBs

The last two years have been a true test for businesses. With the quick transition to working from home, to now transitioning to a hybrid workstyle, it’s been anything but business as usual. Unfortunately, cybercriminals saw this as an opportunity with the FBI reporting a 300% increase in reported cybercrimes, with malicious actors specifically targeting remote workers with phishing and ransomware attacks.

The pandemic also greatly shifted how businesses operate and accelerated the pace of digital transformation. According to Spiceworks 2021 State of IT Report the pandemic was a major catalyst for business transformation and now 76% of businesses plan on long-term IT changes. This has driven tech spending up with increased budgets, which is also confirmed in Untangle’s 2021 SMT IT Security Report where 64% of respondents say they spend more than $1000 on IT security (up from 41% in 2020).

Even with recent ransomware attacks being front page news, some SMBs still maintain an “it can’t happen to me” attitude about network security, and often assume that their data isn’t as valuable as that of larger companies and therefore not targeted. According to a survey, 66% of small and medium business leaders don’t believe they are vulnerable to cyberattacks. However, statistics prove otherwise with 43% of cyberattacks targeting small businesses (Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report).

This tendency to downplay threats happens even as SMBs increase their attack surfaces with the addition of remote and hybrid workers, using more apps and online systems, and adding more and more IoT devices to the network. This attitude also leads to lax security practices among them being weak passwords, ineffective mobile device policies, and not keeping up with cybersecurity threats.

Barriers to Network Security for SMBs

Compounding the rise in cyberattacks, SMBs face many barriers to IT Security. To begin, the fact that they are a smaller business means they don’t have the same IT staff in place as large companies, or the large budgets required to shield them from the ever-increasing number of attacks. According to Untangle’s SMB IT Security Report the top barriers SMBs face are:

  1. Employees who don’t follow rules

  2. Budget constraints

  3. Lack of manpower

In fact, 95% of cybersecurity breaches are due to human error and cybercriminals aim their attacks at careless employees who trustingly click on unknown links, fail to regularly change their passwords, download unauthorized Internet applications onto their computers or don’t update their software.


You Can Stay Ahead of Cybercrimes

With all the news about cyberattacks, advancements in cybersecurity are also being made every day to stay ahead of malicious actors. We at Untangle strive to connect people and their businesses to the internet safely and recognize the importance of cybersecurity awareness every day. To help companies be proactive in stopping attacks, we asked our IT Manager for his suggestions on keeping networks safe. For companies that can make the investment and looking for new technology, he suggested using AI for anomaly detection to provide real-time detection of cyberattack threats. He also suggested using infrastructure as a code to keep changes consistent. In addition, he also listed easy steps any business can take to improve their IT security:

  1. Continuous employee training

  2. Enforcing a strong password policy

  3. Using multi-factor authentication as much as possible

To make sure you have all the resources on the current state of cybercrimes and how you can be proactive to stop them, this Cybersecurity Awareness Month we’ve compiled our favorite reports, whitepapers, eBooks and guides in one place for you to download. And, remember #BeCyberSmart.

Cybersecurity Resources

2021 SMB IT Security Report

Whitepaper: Why SMBs, Not Just Large Businesses, Are Targets for Cyber Attacks

Whitepaper: Take Action to Keep Your Network Safe as Employees Return

Whitepaper: The art of avoiding a Phishing Attack

eBook: Building a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Plan

eBook – Employee Training: Cybersecurity 101

Checklist: Identifying Phishing Emails