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We all recognize the threat of cybersecurity vulnerabilities and the importance of protecting our businesses against those who wish to take advantage, but in a recent survey conducted of U.S. business owners and independent insurance agents, Nationwide found that many businesses just aren't taking the right steps to do so. Some also seem to be trying to convince themselves that they are, even when they know they should be doing more.

Part of protecting your business is following cybersecurity industry trends, understanding how criminals penetrate systems, and taking the precautions to keep them out.

The top trends in cybersecurity are:

1. Use of multi-factor authentication

Northeastern University defines multi-factor authentication as a system in which users must use two or more separate devices to prove their identity. For instance, when attempting to log in to a program, a user may enter their password on their computer browser and then receive a code on their cellphone to enter on the computer again. It makes logins more secure by confirming the user is who they claim to be in at least two places.

There are many third-party apps that businesses can use to integrate multi-factor authentication into their systems. You may find that your customers are already familiar with the process—even if they don’t know what it’s called—because popular apps such as Facebook, Robinhood and Netflix already use it. While many businesses still consider multi-factor authentication optional, others are adopting multi-factor authentication systems as an additional defense against a cyber breach.

2. Increase in cybersecurity threats for remote workers

According to Gartner, the shift to remote or hybrid work caused by COVID-19 put employees at greater risk for cybersecurity threats. As employees integrate their home networks and devices into their working environment, they are more susceptible to phishing emails and ransomware attacks because they simply aren’t equipped with the security measures a business would implement on their in-house systems. Provide resources and training to your employees to help them deploy stronger security measures on their cloud-based applications, home devices and home networks. Learn more about cybersecurity training best practices.

3. Attacks on cloud-based computing services

Northeastern University reports that cloud-based computing services have risen in popularity in recent years and companies are using them more than ever across an increasingly global workforce. They make it easy for employees to access the tools they need to succeed from anywhere and are convenient and relatively inexpensive to host. However, they are also a prime target for cyberattacks. Make sure to keep your cloud-based systems up-to-date and use breach and attack simulations to test for any weaknesses in your security system.

4. Breach and attack simulation

A cybersecurity breach occurs when there is unauthorized interference with your technology systems. Breach and attack simulations (BAS) can help you assess the strength of your cybersecurity systems by testing your system against hypothetical threats and analyzing areas that may be of higher risk. Implementing BAS can help you identify and eliminate vulnerabilities quickly. Learn more about what a breach can mean for your business.

5. Managing technologies and devices

Oracle defines the Internet of Things (IoT) as the network of physical objects that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet. It includes everything from connected equipment on the shop floor, to smart home products, to automation technology. It is rapidly surrounding us and showing no sign of slowing down. As you integrate AI and smart technology into your business, establishing an enterprise-wide strategy to identify and manage any connected machine is essential to keeping your network and data secure. Additionally, here are some helpful tips for improving mobile security for your business.

Other noteworthy cybersecurity trends

Small business owners are more vulnerable to cyberattacks than they think, and less prepared for them. A recent Nationwide survey of 2,400 U.S. business owners, consumers and independent insurance agents conducted by Edelman Intelligence found:

Small business owners don’t recognize cyber vulnerabilities.

While almost half of all cyberattacks are directed toward small businesses1, many small business owners do not believe cyberattacks are a threat to their business. Additionally, the survey found that over half of the small business owners surveyed did not provide cybersecurity training to their employees. Small businesses should be especially vigilant due to the higher rate of cyberattacks. Here are some tips on how to protect your small business from cyberattacks.

Small business owners also lack knowledge on cybersecurity liability and protection

The survey found that 83% of small business owners did not have cyber insurance. Additionally, agents reported that their clients are unsure of how to proceed with cyber insurance, and are reluctant to explore the option because they believe the risk is minimal. However, cyber breaches can be extremely costly to a business. Explore what cyber insurance is and how having protection can help you.

Middle market businesses are better equipped to handle cyberattacks

According to Nationwide's survey, 80% of middle market business owners feel that they would be able to recover from a cyberattack. Conversely, almost one-third of small business owners believe that they would not be able to. Middle market businesses reported feeling more concerned about, and therefore more prepared for, cyberattacks than smaller businesses.

Consumers underestimate their cyber risk

Business owners and employees aren’t the only ones who need to think about their cybersecurity – consumers are at risk too. The survey found that only 2 in 5 consumers had a basic understanding of common risks and were poorly prepared for potential attacks. Thirty percent of consumers who experience a cyberattack are financially impacted, yet only 13% of consumers report investing in personal cyber insurance.

Business owners should take note of these cybersecurity trends, and consider investing the time and resources to stay up-to-date. The security of your business depends on it!


Nationwide commissioned Edelman Intelligence to conduct a 20-minute quantitative online survey among a sample of 2,400 U.S. independent insurance agents, small business owners, mid-market business owners, African American business owners, Hispanic business owners and general consumers between June 9 – June 25, 2021. The objective was to understand what business owners and consumers value when buying or renewing insurance policies, explore the different challenges each audience faces around insurance, gauge perceptions of the economy and how each audience is managing uncertainty, and find out the actions business owners and consumer have taken as a result of COVID-19 and the conversations they’re having with agents. For the purposes of this survey, middle market business owner was defined as anyone who self-reported as being a sole or part owner of a company with either 51-500 employees or $10M-$500M in revenue or 20+ fleet vehicles. As a member of CASRO in good standing, Edelman Intelligence conducts all research in accordance with Market Research Standards and Guidelines.

1Source: Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report

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The information contained in this blog was obtained from sources believed to be reliable to help users address their own risk management and insurance needs. It does not and is not intended to provide legal advice. Nationwide, its affiliates and employees do not guarantee improved results based upon the information contained herein and assume no liability in connection with the information or the provided suggestions. The recommendations provided are general in nature; unique circumstances may not warrant or require implementation of some or all of the suggestions. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2021 Nationwide