Small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) that operate telecom networks and other critical infrastructure (energy, financial, water) are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks, and, therefore, present a risk to national security, according toa new SMB cybersecurity report from USTelecom | The Broadband Association.
In a new survey, US Telecom found that SMBs are particularly vulnerable to attacks across social media, VPNs, social engineering and industrial control systems. SMBs are popular for hackers to target because they don’t have all of the sophisticated security systems of large enterprises, yet they have valuable data – including customer financial and personal information.
The research also found that three quarters of critical infrastructure SMBs experienced at least one breach, which could take an average of five months to recover from, at an average cost of $170,000.
Additionally, nearly six-in-10 (59%) said they suffered breaches that stopped daily productivity. Forty-six percent reported losing customers as a result of a breach.
“Don’t be fooled – these companies may be small or have fewer employees than their counterparts – but they play a big role in operating and safeguarding our country’s critical infrastructure, including energy, financial, water and communications assets,” Robert Mayer, USTelecom’s senior vice president of cybersecurity and innovation, said in a prepared statement. “There is nothing small about the importance of bolstering their cybersecurity posture to improve our collective security.”
He added: “USTelecom commissioned this survey to help companies and policymakers bolster cybersecurity because a failure at any individual, but interconnected, critical infrastructure company could impact the broader digital ecosystem. SolarWinds and the recent attack at a water plant in Florida demonstrate that companies need to immediately take stock of their cyber defenses – and get ready.”
Some telecom providers are seeing SMB’s cybersecurity risks as an opportunity. For example, Comcast introduced SecurityEdge, an SMB security solution, as Telecompetitor reported.