To Put This in Context:
Cybercrime is the most serious obstacle that companies face with their online operations — especially small businesses. When these companies adopt new technologies, they expose their systems to attack due to an underinvestment in cybersecurity. This has increased demand for trained cybersecurity professionals across industries. By understanding the cybersecurity challenges that small businesses face, students can pursue degree programs and certificates that can equip them to lead a niche market in great need of their skills.
Small Businesses, Big Targets
From major corporations to small mom-and-pop stores, companies are discovering better ways to use mobile technology and cloud computing to do business. But so are cybercriminals.  Half of global cyberattacks in 2015 involved small businesses, partly because business owners assume that cybercriminals are only interested in major corporations and don’t take proper precautions. 
Small businesses are in cybercriminals’ crosshairs because:
- An attack against a business is potentially more lucrative than one against an individual.
- Large corporations invest more in cybersecurity.
- Hackers can target many small businesses at the same time.
Hackers are more likely to target small businesses over individuals because of the data these companies acquire, like customers’ financial information. Small businesses also may overlook security protocols and firewalls. This leaves them prone to a criminal sweep by thieves conducting a widespread attack.  Students can learn about how these emerging threats can cripple small businesses by pursuing specialized cybersecurity degrees, many of which are available online.
Many companies welcome cyberattacks by underinvesting in cybersecurity & failing to secure on-site systems. #Context
Types of Cybercrimes
The most common types of cyber assaults include:
- Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are targeted strikes in which a hacker works to break apart a network. APTs usually involve five stages: scouting out a target, delivering malware, determining a target’s defenses, gaining access to the company’s data, and using the acquired information.
- Password attacks. Hackers have three methods for cracking passwords: brute force attacks that consist of trying multiple passwords, dictionary attacks that attempt different word combinations, and key-logging, or tracking keystrokes via malware. 
- Malware is any kind of program that enters a target’s computer with programming designed to damage the company’s system or gain access to it. Trojan horses, viruses, ransomware, and worms are different types of malware. According to reports, in 2015, 430 million new forms of malware were sent into the business world. 
- Insider attacks from current or former employees who use their administrative privileges to gain access to confidential data. 
- Distributed denial of service or DDoS attacks involve intentionally overloading a server with requests with a goal of shutting down a company’s network or website. Attackers typically extort business into paying them to stop the attacks.
- Phishing is the most common form of cybercrime and involves collecting a customer’s login credentials and credit card information, usually through a fraudulent website.
Cyberattacks come in different forms, but all share a goal to steal and abuse personal data. That’s why it is imperative that small businesses safeguard their assets with highly educated cybersecurity professionals.
Hackers can gain access to your system with malware that uses word combinations to decipher passwords. #Context
How Educated Workers Can Save Small Businesses
A bachelor’s or master’s degree in cybersecurity can equip students with a toolkit of technical skills that not only protect small businesses, but make them more efficient, as well. Graduates can impact the small sector by:
- Secure, encrypt, and/or hide Wi-Fi networks
- Provide firewall security for internet connections
- Clean machines regularly with the latest security software, web browsers, and operating systems
- Update systems and run anti-virus scans afterwards
- Install security apps on all company mobile phones
- Limit employee access to information with unique user accounts
According to a Global Information Security Workforce study, by 2020, the U.S. will need 1.5 million cybersecurity specialists. And with small businesses facing an ongoing cybercrime crisis, cybersecurity is a rapidly expanding employment field for the sector.  But these companies face stiff competition from corporations that partner with colleges and universities, granting them first choice of hiring recent graduates. However, the small sector has an advantage over corporate competitors: greater entrepreneurial opportunity. Students could capitalize on these opportunities by pursuing online programs that blend business with cybersecurity, which also paves the way for their future growth in a niche market.
Did you know?
Cybersecurity professionals post high salaries, with a median range from $70,000 to $118,000, which is 9% more than other IT divisions. They also have the opportunity to work abroad in exotic locations to fill global cybersecurity needs. 
About 84% of the recent job postings for the cybersecurity field seek applicants with at least a bachelor’s degree. Some businesses even want employees to have additional certifications. This creates an advantage for some students, and also places high value on earning a cybersecurity degree that offers optional certificates — many of which can be earned on a 100% online format. 
Cybersecurity Is a Lasting Investment
It is essential that small businesses hire one or more cybersecurity professionals for their staff in our interconnected work environment. It’s an investment in protecting assets, preventing threats, and safeguarding a company’s most precious resource: the customer. But work experience is not enough. Thwarting cybercrime requires a wide range of technical skill and advanced knowledge. Students interested in a cybersecurity career must be willing to build on their expertise with degrees or certificates. This is the best way to enjoy a lasting, lucrative career in this rapidly expanding field.