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Op-Ed: Small businesses are prime targets of cyberattacks
Oscar De La Rosa
Oscar De La Rosa

By Oscar De La Rosa


Last year, the United States witnessed over 2,116 cases of data breaches across various industries, affecting more than 233.9 million individuals. Just this year, Change Healthcare announced that they had been hacked -- creating chaos in Georgia hospitals.

Unfortunately, these breaches involve illegal access, copying, and/or theft of sensitive and confidential data. The consequences impact hardworking individuals, families, as well as large and small businesses.

While we often hear about data breaches on big companies, like the recent cyberattack on Xfinity, the reality is that small businesses are typically the prime targets for data breaches to occur. Small businesses lack the robust cybersecurity defenses and insurance coverage of larger corporations, and when they're hit, the impact can be devastating. On average, a single data breach costs small businesses $200,000, with 60% of affected businesses closing their doors within six months of a cyberattack.

In 2024, we face an even greater threat. Over $5 trillion in damages is expected due to targeted cyberattacks, many of which are now fueled by artificial intelligence. A.I. has reshaped how we interact with technology, allowing machines to learn and make decisions. Sadly, this same technology is now being used by cybercriminals to launch more sophisticated attacks.

As we move deeper into A.I technology, small businesses will face a wave of impersonation and phishing attacks driven by artificial intelligence. Hackers are leveraging A.I. to create convincing content that deceives business owners into disclosing sensitive information. This information is then used to hold businesses hostage, demanding hefty ransoms. The use of A.I. in phishing tactics has made cybercriminals more sophisticated and dangerous.

Hackers are increasingly utilizing A.I. to automate various attacks, including phishing, malware, and credential-stuffing attacks. Deep Learning, a subset of A.I., enables hackers to create “Deepfake” content, which impersonates voices and manipulates videos to deceive users. With these capabilities, attackers can evade security systems like voice recognition software.

The magnitude of the threat posed by A.I.-fueled cyberattacks have forced elected officials, including the White House, to seek solutions.. Multiple executive orders underscore the national security threat posed by these attacks. The administration aims to shift the cybersecurity responsibility away from individuals and small businesses onto organizations better equipped to handle these risks.

While the rise of A.I. enabled cyberattacks are alarming, there are steps we can take to protect ourselves and our businesses. Implementing 2-Step Verification, using antivirus software on all devices, verifying website URLs, and remaining vigilant against phishing scams are essential measures. Logging off when not in use and reviewing and adjusting privacy settings are also crucial in safeguarding your digital identity.

It’s important that small-business owners are aware of their obligations if impacted by a cyberattack. Victims should also be aware of their rights. “Under Georgia state law, businesses must notify residents about security breaches that expose their personal information. The notices can be written or electronic, and must be submitted as soon as possible after discovery of the breach,” according to Insureon, an insurance company for businesses.

In 2024, A.I. will drive cyberattacks to unprecedented levels. Protecting yourself and your business is paramount. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and take action to defend your digital world. The time to act is now.

Oscar De La Rosa is the founder and lead attorney at De La Rosa Law, a mass tort and data breach litigation law firm based out of Miami, Florida and Washington, D.C. De La Rosa is a former council member for the city of Hialeah, Florida.