As cyber criminals are prolific in their attempt to steal data and ruin organizations operationally, financially, and reputationally, cybersecurity has become essential for businesses of all sizes. Yet, many small organizations, feeling secure because they’ve never experienced a cyber breach, fall victim to normalcy bias. This cognitive bias leads them to believe that because something has never happened to them, it is unlikely to happen in the future. This dangerous mindset can leave small businesses vulnerable to cyber threats, with potentially devastating consequences.

Understanding Normalcy Bias

Normalcy bias is a mental state people enter when facing potential disaster. It causes them to underestimate both the likelihood of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. In the context of cybersecurity, small organizations may assume that their lack of previous breaches means they are not targets or that their security measures are sufficient. This bias can result in complacency, inadequate preparation, and a lack of investment in essential cybersecurity measures.

The False Sense of Security

Many small businesses believe that cybercriminals are more likely to target larger corporations with more data and resources. While it is true that large organizations are often prime targets, small businesses are not immune. In fact, cybercriminals frequently target small businesses precisely because they often lack robust cybersecurity defenses. According to a report by Verizon, 43% of cyberattacks targeted small businesses. This statistic underscores the vulnerability of small organizations and the fallacy of assuming they are too insignificant to be targeted.

The Problem

Imagine Jane, the owner of a small accounting firm. For years, Jane has operated under the assumption that her business is too small to attract cybercriminals. Her firm has never experienced a cyber breach, so why should she worry? This mindset has kept her from investing in adequate cybersecurity measures. Jane, like many other small business owners, is suffering from normalcy bias.

The Stakes

If Jane’s firm were to experience a cyberattack, the consequences could be catastrophic. Financial losses, reputational damage, and the loss of sensitive client data are just the beginning. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60% of small businesses close within six months of a cyberattack. Jane’s livelihood and the jobs of her employees are at risk. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Kyber’s 7 Steps to Protecting your Organization

You, as a small business owner, need guidance to navigate this treacherous terrain. Here are some steps you can take to protect your business from cyber threats:

  1. Awareness and Education: The first step in combating normalcy bias is awareness. Educate yourself and your employees about the reality of cyber threats and the potential consequences of a breach. Regular training sessions and updates on the latest cyber threats can help maintain a high level of vigilance.
  2. Risk Assessment: Conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify potential vulnerabilities within your IT infrastructure. By understanding where the weaknesses lie, you can take targeted actions to strengthen your defenses.
  3. Implementing Robust Security Measures: Invest in robust cybersecurity measures, including firewalls, next generation antivirus software, and encryption. Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security, making it more difficult for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access.
  4. Developing an Incident Response Plan: An incident response plan is crucial for minimizing the damage in the event of a cyber breach. Outline the steps to be taken immediately following a breach, including identifying and containing the threat, notifying affected parties, and restoring normal operations.
  5. Regularly Updating Systems and Software: Keep your systems and software up to date. Regular updates and patches help protect against known vulnerabilities and reduce the risk of exploitation by cybercriminals.
  6. Monitoring and Detection: Continuous monitoring of network activity can help detect unusual behavior that may indicate a cyberattack. Implement advanced threat detection systems to provide real-time alerts and automated responses to potential threats. This monitoring should be done by a 24/7/365 security operations center (SOC) to ensure that someone is watching out for you even when you are not there.
  7. Cyber Insurance: Invest in cyber insurance to provide financial protection in the event of a breach. While it is not a substitute for robust security measures, it can help mitigate the financial impact of a cyberattack.

The Plan

By following these steps, you can create a cybersecurity plan that protects your business from potential threats. Awareness, risk assessment, robust security measures, incident response planning, system updates, monitoring, and cyber insurance are all essential components of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

Case Study

Consider the case of a small accounting firm that, for years, operated under the assumption that it was too small to be a target for cybercriminals. With no prior breaches and a limited budget, the firm did not prioritize cybersecurity. One day, the firm fell victim to a ransomware attack that encrypted all of its client data. The attackers demanded a hefty ransom in exchange for the decryption key. Unable to access their files and facing the possibility of permanent data loss, the firm was forced to pay the ransom. The financial hit was substantial, but the reputational damage was even more severe. Clients lost trust in the firm’s ability to protect sensitive information, leading to a significant loss of business.

This case underscores the importance of not succumbing to normalcy bias. The firm’s belief that it was too small to be targeted left it ill-prepared for the reality of cyber threats. By the time the firm realized the importance of cybersecurity, it was too late.

Final Thoughts

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Take action now to protect your business from cyber threats. Overcoming normalcy bias and investing in cybersecurity can safeguard your livelihood, your employees’ jobs, and your clients’ trust. Start today by educating yourself and your team, assessing your risks, and implementing the necessary security measures. Your business’s future depends on it.