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Why Small Businesses Can’t Ignore Consumer Privacy and Security Concerns

5 Mins read

Cyberattacks pose a significant risk for businesses of all sizes, especially today when so many companies are digitally dependent. However, the consequences of a security breach can be particularly devastating for small businesses—and they’re on the rise.

A recent IBM report estimates the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 to be $4.45 million, more than enough to put some companies out of business. The Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) has been published for 17 years, highlighting the cyber threats businesses face. The 2024 DBIR found:

  • The exploitation of vulnerabilities as an initial access step for a breach has almost tripled since last year, up approximately 180%, accounting for 14% of data breaches.
  • Typically, it takes attacked businesses around 55 days to remediate 50% of critical vulnerabilities after patches are available, yet threat actors normally begin scanning for vulnerable targets within five days.
  • In the past 10 years, 31% of all breaches have used stolen credentials.
  • Human error is a big catalyst for most cyber incidents, with 68% of breaches involving a non-malicious human element. Phishing accounted for 15% of breach access methods—and the median time for users to fall for phishing emails is less than 60 seconds.
  • Traditional ransomware declined slightly to 23%. However, there’s a clear trend with some ransomware crooks moving to pure extortion-based attacks—32% of all breaches involved some type of extortion technique.

Consequences of Cyber Threats

Addressing privacy and security issues should be a top priority for small business owners. Here’s why:

Existential Threat: A successful cyberattack can cripple a small business. Data breaches can expose sensitive customer information, leading to financial losses, reputational damage, and even legal repercussions. Malware attacks can disrupt operations, leading to lost productivity and revenue. In the worst-case scenario, a security incident can force a small business to shut down permanently.

Prime Targets: Large corporations typically have robust cyber-threat measures in place, but small businesses are often seen as easier targets. They may lack the resources to invest in sophisticated security systems, employ dedicated IT security personnel, or stay current with the ever-evolving threat landscape. Hackers often exploit these vulnerabilities, targeting small businesses for quick gains.

Financial Implications: A cyberattack can have severe financial consequences for a small business. Recovering stolen data, repairing damaged systems, and complying with data breach notification laws can be prohibitively expensive. Additionally, losing customer trust and potential legal battles can further strain finances.

Compliance Concerns: Companies are legally obligated to protect consumer privacy data under various regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States, and others. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines and legal consequences, emphasizing the importance of adhering to these laws.

Maintaining Customer Trust and Satisfaction: Customer trust is paramount in today’s competitive environment. Protecting consumer privacy data can lead to higher customer satisfaction and retention. Customers are more likely to remain loyal to a company they trust with their personal information. Focusing on privacy can enhance customer experience, increasing satisfaction and long-term loyalty.

Privacy Solutions for Strengthening Data Protection

Obviously, it’s critical that small businesses protect themselves and their customers’ information from cyberattacks. Fortunately, there are ways businesses can do this. Zoho Corporation, a leading global technology company, recently announced a new security stack comprised of four solutions offering “the highest level of protection against tracking, breaches, and attacks without sacrificing employee and organizational productivity.”

The tech stack includes:

  • Ulaa—a privacy-first browser
  • Directory—a workforce identity and access management (IAM) platform
  • OneAuth—a multi-factor authentication (MFA) solution
  • Vault—a secure password manager

What can the Zoho security stack do for your business? Here are the details:

Ulaa

The Ulaa browser emphasizes data privacy and security and enhances productivity while blocking web surveillance and tracking. It now features ML-powered phishing detection, which protects users by identifying and blocking phishing sites with advanced algorithms.

Ulaa also features crypto mining detection, which prevents unauthorized mining attacks and enhances security. Plus, its superior ad blocking protects user privacy by eliminating intrusive ads and tracking scripts.

Directory

Zoho’s workforce IAM platform, Directory, helps businesses securely manage their users, apps, devices, and networks from a single console with one secure credential. With conditional access and routing policies, IT admins can also automate access management without fear of security breaches.

Zoho further explains how Directory works: “Users can upload their own encryption keys from an external key manager to encrypt their data,” ensuring they’re the only person with access to it using the Bring Your Own Key (BYOK).

SMBs can also authenticate enterprise WiFi networks and VPNs using Zoho Directory Cloud RADIUS. Plus, Windows, Mac, and Linux devices can all be authenticated using Directory.

OneAuth

OneAuth’s new Smart Sign-in feature allows users to scan a secure QR code and log into their Zoho accounts more quickly.

Plus, OneAuth now makes it easier to enforce MFA across the entire business “by enabling administrators to add employees by carrying over their MFA session from a web browser to a mobile device, removing friction from the adoption process.”

The passwordless feature allows Zoho users to enter their username and then log in via push notification and biometric verification. If there’s an MFA-fatigue attack, users can enable Restrict Sign-in and lock accounts from further attempts.

OneAuth’s App-Lock feature makes accessing OneAuth more secure because unauthorized sessions can be killed remotely with Remote Logout. OneAuth also offers encrypted cloud sync, making it possible to use the authenticator across devices. Users can recover lost or stolen devices via a Passphrase, known only to them, making sync and recovery doubly secure.

OneAuth is available in Android, iOS, macOS, iPadOS, WatchOS, Wear OS, and Windows.

Vault

Vault is an enterprise password manager that allows businesses to store, share, and manage workforce passwords from anywhere. Features include a password generator, policies, breached password detection, compliance reports, browser extensions, and mobile apps.

You can also store confidential data, including credit card information, private notes, and software licenses, in Vault so administrators can set and maintain employee access privileges based on need and compliance. Vault offers browser extensions, mobile apps, and desktop apps for all popular platforms.

Concerns About AI

A report from the Pew Research Center shows that of the Americans who are aware of artificial intelligence (AI):

  • 70% have little to no trust in companies to make responsible decisions about using AI in their products.
  • 81% say the information companies collect will be used in ways they’re not comfortable with
  • 80% say it will be used in ways that were not originally intended

Although businesses continue to embrace AI, they’re slow to implement a generative AI security strategy, says Irwin Lazar, President and Principal Analyst at Metrigy, a research and advisory firm.

Lazar says, “Metrigy’s research data shows that attacks against business applications are continuing to increase, while at the same time, many [businesses] lack a comprehensive, full-stack approach for protecting themselves against growing risk.”

He reports that almost 85% of Metrigy’s research participants use or plan to use generative AI, but only 39% have implemented a generative AI security strategy. Lazar adds, “Zoho’s integrated approach, combining identity and access management with a secure browser, provides IT and cybersecurity leaders with an integrated suite of tools to secure application and data access, including generative AI services.”

The Importance of Offering Security Solutions

Zoho understands the critical need to offer security solutions to its customers. When announcing the new features of the Zoho security stack, Raju Vegesna, Zoho’s Chief Evangelist, says, “Nothing is more important to Zoho than the privacy and security of not only our customers but their customers, too.” The upgraded security stack, he adds, “brings businesses the broad and deep protection needed to defend against today’s increasingly sophisticated attacks. This stack is unlike anything else on the market, providing top security solutions alongside a privacy-first browser, which affords users an additional layer of safety against surveillance and tracking.”

SMBs cannot afford to ignore cyber threats. It’s crucial to proactively protect your systems and data to safeguard your business, customers, and employees. Don’t think of taking measures to improve your cybersecurity as an expense. Instead, consider it an investment in protecting the future of your small business.

In partnership with Zoho

Security breach stock photo by TON_PHOTO/Shutterstock

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