What do companies fear most in 2022 when it comes to protecting their business? Supply chain problems or natural disasters? No. Cyberattacks. This is the result of the latest Allianz Risk Barometer 2022. However, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular often assume that they are not important enough to warrant an attack. Not so. In reality, SMEs are more at risk than large corporations because they lack the expertise and human resources to optimise their defences to prevent attacks. And cybercriminals are only too aware of this fact. (Customer) identity and access management solutions (CIAM and IAM) help SMEs effectively protect the online accounts that are so often targeted by criminals. We explain how in this post.
Ransomware attacks, data breaches or IT failures – cyber threats of all types are the biggest worry for companies worldwide. According to the Allianz Risk Barometer 2022, they have even ranked ahead of business and supply chain disruptions, natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.
SMEs, in particular, are exposed to enormous risks given the increasing number of cyberattacks. According to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, almost 70 per cent of SMEs worldwide have already fallen victim to a cyberattack. Unlike large corporations, they find it more difficult to cope with a successful attack, which at worst can even have terminal effects.
SMEs suffer reputational damage after a cyberattack
The economic damage after a cyberattack is immense. The main cost driver, in this case, is the disruption to everyday business processes. There is also the extra workload for employees, the cost of investing in new security tools, not to mention possible fines for breaches of the European General Data Protection Regulation or even ransom payments in response to ransomware attacks.
However, such financial losses are not the only consequence. A cyberattack also damages the image and brand equity of SMEs. If the trust of customers is broken, they will simply migrate to the competition, never to return, and they will certainly not recommend the affected company to others.
List of the most severe cyber threats
Let’s take a look at the most popular methods of attack used by hackers. As part of our Nevis Security Barometer 2021, we surveyed 500 IT decision-makers. Roughly 27 per cent of them confirmed that their company had already been the target of a brute-force attack, while some 23 per cent had experienced social engineering attacks.
The login area – the central gateway for cybercriminals
The brute-force method employed by hackers does exactly what it says on the tin. These types of attacks rely on lists of genuine usernames and passwords, which are then matched by trial and error with the help of bots.
The authors of social engineering attacks try to exploit human weaknesses and errors. Although they come in all shapes and sizes, one of the most successful variants involves the use of phishing emails. Fraudsters use email messages from supposedly trustworthy senders to lure victims to fake sites where they are then requested to disclose their credentials.
Credential stuffing attacks also focus on login details. Against their better judgement, many Internet users employ the same usernames and passwords for multiple online accounts. Hackers exploit this during credential stuffing attacks. They use illegally obtained credentials to launch automated login attempts on countless websites.
Prevention and support for company IT with the help of specialists
Against this background, SMEs cannot ignore the need to defend themselves against the numerous attacks and methods employed by hackers. Strengthening one’s own resilience and cybersecurity is tantamount to a competitive advantage. It’s also important to remember in this context that online accounts – belonging to both customers and employees – are very often the target of cybercriminals. Therefore, it is important not only to use tools for endpoint security or to protect against viruses and malware but also to secure login areas with the help of experts and specialist solutions.
Armed with (customer) identity and access management solutions (CIAM/IAM), SMEs can easily raise the security level of their online accounts to a higher level. This is where two-factor or multi-factor authentication can help. Instead of relying on a password, the authentication process requires users to identify themselves with at least one additional factor. This can be through something that they possess or an inherent physical characteristic. For example, they can identify themselves using their fingerprint (inherence factor) with the help an authenticator app on their smartphone (possession factor). Nevertheless, greater security also means slightly more work for customers or employees. To strike a good balance between security and usability – which is so important when it comes to the customer experience – modern (C)IAM tools offer particularly convenient passwordless authentication.
A convenient security boost that pays off
Passwordless logins allow users to authenticate themselves easily and quickly with the help of biometric identity features. As well as being convenient, biometric features are practically impossible to hack.
Tools can be integrated with minimal cost into the existing IT architecture of SMEs. Experienced Nevis experts also ensure that the result is tailored to your needs. In any case, the cost of implementing a (C)IAM solution will amount to a fraction of the economic damage that a successful cyberattack would inflict.