The recent exposure of the data of 500 million customers of hotel group, Marriot, illustrates how even big companies can fall victim to cyberattacks – but small businesses need to be just as careful, says Thorsten Kurpjuhn, Market Development Manager Europe at Zyxel
The recent breach of the Marriot Hotels group affected an astonishing 500 million people who have stayed at a Marriot or Starwood properties worldwide. It was a further illustration of how even the biggest companies can fall victim to hackers.
But it would be wrong to think that only big, multi-national organisations are subjected to these attacks. A study by the Ponemon Institute, published in September 2017, found that cyberattacks against SMBs over a 12 month period had increased 61 percent – up from 55 percent the previous 12 months.
The wrong impression
These kinds of attacks cost smaller businesses just as much, relatively, as large firms. As well as the damage or theft of data, there is the cost of the disruption to normal everyday working and the company’s reputation. In the case of Marriot, the latter will perhaps be the most worrying. Paying hotel guests won’t have been impressed that their personal details and perhaps their passport number and payment card information might have been stolen.
But that would be the same if you are a small retailer, a web-based supplier of gifts, or a legal firm for example. Most companies have to store personal information on their customers and they are expected, not only by their customers, but also by governments and regulators, to keep it safe.
While we are yet to see exactly what the consequences will be for Marriot, it’s another example just how far-reaching and fundamental security breaches can be. Organised data theft and ransomware attacks can hit companies of all types and sizes. Most are caused by malware infiltrating the network via email, so it is very important to ensure that staff are fully aware of the dangers of opening unsolicited messages or clicking on attachments that they were not expecting.
Protecting the entry points to networks is also vitally important and every organization of every size should really have the kind of unified threat protection that Zyxel’s ZyWALL UTM firewalls are designed to provide at the gateway to their network.
These appliances are easy to install and to manage. They provide excellent protection against a wide range of threats and thus minimise the chances of data loss, a ransomware attack or other infiltration. The Marriot incident is just the latest high-profile cyberattack – and we are certain to see others grabbing the headlines in the future. What we might not hear as much about are the tens of thousands of attacks on SMBs that take place every day.