October 16


The Top 3 Cybersecurity Risks for Small Businesses in the Defense Industrial Base

As we navigate through 2023, small businesses within the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) face an ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats. It is imperative to understand and mitigate these risks to protect sensitive data and maintain business continuity. This article will highlight the top three cybersecurity risks for small businesses in the DIB today: ransomware, misconfigurations and unpatched systems, and social engineering. We'll also touch on the upcoming Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) requirements.

1. Ransomware

Ransomware attacks are a significant cybersecurity threat for small businesses in the DIB. These attacks involve malicious software that encrypts a victim's files. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment.

The impact of ransomware on small businesses can be devastating, as they often lack the resources and expertise to recover quickly. According to StrongDM, 46% of all cyber breaches impact businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees. This statistic underscores the vulnerability of small businesses to such threats.

To mitigate the risk of ransomware, businesses need to adopt a multi-layered security approach. This includes regular data backups, employee training on recognizing suspicious emails, and keeping all systems updated with the latest security patches.

2. Misconfigurations and Unpatched Systems

Misconfigurations and unpatched systems represent another major cybersecurity risk for small businesses. Misconfigurations can occur when security settings are not properly set up, leaving the system vulnerable to attacks. Unpatched systems refer to software or hardware that hasn't been updated with the latest security patches, leaving them open to known vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit.

Small businesses often struggle with keeping their systems patched due to limited IT resources. This makes them an attractive target for cybercriminals. Regular system audits and prompt patch management can significantly reduce this risk.

3. Social Engineering

Social engineering attacks, which include phishing and other deception-based tactics, are a growing concern for small businesses. In these attacks, cybercriminals manipulate individuals into revealing confidential information, which is then used to gain unauthorized access to systems or data.

Training employees to recognize and respond appropriately to social engineering attempts is crucial. Measures such as two-factor authentication can also provide an additional layer of security.

The CMMC Requirements

In addition to these threats, small businesses in the DIB need to be aware of the upcoming CMMC requirements. The Department of Defense (DoD) has introduced the CMMC to ensure that defense contractors have adequate cybersecurity controls in place. Failure to meet these requirements could result in loss of contracts with the DoD.

The CMMC framework includes five maturity levels, each with a set of processes and practices. Even the lowest level requires basic cybersecurity hygiene practices, emphasizing the importance of addressing the risks outlined above.


Cybersecurity is a critical concern for small businesses in the Defense Industrial Base. Ransomware, misconfigurations and unpatched systems, and social engineering represent significant threats. However, by understanding these risks and implementing robust security measures, businesses can enhance their resilience against cyberattacks. In doing so, they not only protect their operations but also position themselves to meet the upcoming CMMC requirements.

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