In this fast-paced digital age, cybercrime has easily become one of the most prevalent forms of criminal activity. Now that more businesses conduct operations through the web, small brands have become the hackers’ primary target. To give a better picture, studies indicate that nearly half of cyberattacks are focused on small businesses.
If your company handles sensitive information regularly, eliminating the threat of a data breach should be one of your main priorities. Knowing the different security threats your organization may encounter will allow you to keep your precious data safe and help you ensure business continuity for the years to come.
10 Types of Cybersecurity Threats Targeting Small Businesses
To get you started, our guide will give you a brief overview of the most common cyberattacks and how you can deal with them.
1. Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are the most common cybersecurity threat that small businesses face. It accounts for 90% of all data breaches and costs companies over $12 billion in losses annually. They’re usually delivered via email or fake websites, but recent cases suggest that they’re getting more complex.
A phishing attack happens when a hacker pretends to be one of your trusted contacts. Once the fraudster successfully disguises himself as your business partner, he may send you a message that requires you to click through a link, download a file, or share confidential information.
Upon acquisition, they can use the data they’ve gained for identity theft or put it up for sale for their clients.
Since phishing scams are socially engineered threats, they are very difficult to identify. The good news is you can easily prevent them by investing in an email security gateway. Paired with the right policies and cybersecurity practices, your company can keep phishing attacks at bay.
2. Compromised Passwords
In 2019, research shows that 42% of breached companies were compromised through bad passwords. This statistic should be a cause for concern since some of your employees may be using weak passwords or reusing codes for both their personal and work accounts.
As they use cloud-based services and other digital tools, you should educate your staff on basic password management. For starters, tell them to avoid easy-to-guess codes such as “123456” or their birthdays.
Encourage them to utilize different characters, symbols, and a mix of upper and lower case letters and enable two-factor authentication, which adds another layer of protection for their accounts.
3. Man-in-the-Middle Attacks
A man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack is when a hacker spies on your conversations with a business partner. Since you and your client may be exchanging sensitive information through email or a messaging platform, the hacker monitoring your discussions may get a chance to steal data.
Dealing with an MITM attack can be tricky since this is hard to detect. Hackers commonly use phishing sites, traffic re-routing, and other similar tactics to execute this, so you need to take preventive measures. Fortunately, using end-to-end encryption alongside the right cybersecurity practices will help keep your interactions private.
4. Server Attacks
Your web server is a vital component of your company’s digital infrastructure. Since it stores valuable information about your business, hackers won’t be shy to infiltrate it. Falling into a Denial-of-services (DOS) attack or SQL injections must be avoided at all costs since it can disrupt operations and threaten your clients’ security.
One good way to safeguard your web server is to improve cybersecurity awareness in your organization and remind your employees to stay vigilant about their online activity. But other than telling them not to visit unencrypted sites or download suspicious files, constant server monitoring is your best bet.
Investing in anti-virus programs, web-server scanners, and other cybersecurity solutions will give you all the protection you require.
5. Malware Attacks
Malware attacks are one of the biggest threats to small businesses. Hackers have been using viruses and trojans for the longest time to gain access to a network, siphon data from devices, and even cause hardware problems. They can be contracted in several ways and deal a huge blow to your company’s financial stability.
The best way to prevent such attacks is to manage the devices of your staff. Since some may be using personal laptops or phones for work, the lack of security software can put them at risk of a hack. Ensuring that their devices are updated, installing anti-virus programs, and blocking unsecured pages from your network will guard everyone in your organization.
Check out our ebook guide on Understanding and Defending Against Advanced Malware!
6. Bring-Your-Personal-Device Policies
Allowing employees to bring and use their personal devices may help your business cut costs, but many risks come with it. As mentioned, some of your employees’ gadgets may not have protection, so they have a greater chance of being attacked. Once a virus infiltrates their phones or laptops, it can find its way into your network and spell trouble for your business.
Providing them with company-issued devices may be costly, but it’s a great way to be more protected. In case this option is out of your budget, you can guarantee your business’ safety by installing security software. As a precaution, reminding them to monitor their online activity will help your company stay safe.
7. Fake Apps
Now that the world has gone digital, mobile app usage is now at an all-time high. Due to its widespread use and relevance among all sectors, hackers are making the most out of the situation by producing fraudulent applications. To give you a better idea of how this threat has grown, around 65,000 fake apps were identified in December 2018 alone.
When one is installed on a phone or laptop, it can access its user’s personal data and eventually breach the networks it is connected to. To ensure that everyone in the company is safe, tell them to download apps from credible platforms only and invest in the necessary security programs.
From the name itself, hackers use this malware to penetrate your database and prevent you from accessing it. Once it successfully gets into your system, your data will be held hostage until you pay a “ransom” to these offenders. This type of attack is usually delivered through phishing emails but can also be done by exploiting gaps in your security system.
Hackers love targeting small businesses since their cybersecurity protocols can be sloppy. At the same time, the risk of losing data and closing down makes small entrepreneurs more desperate to pay off the ransom. By the end of 2021, experts estimate that over 11.5 billion ransomware incidents will occur, so this should be enough reason for you to double down on cybersecurity.
9. Socially Engineered Attacks
For a formal definition, a socially-engineered attack is a cybercrime based on human interaction.
Instead of breaching a network remotely or using a phishing site to install malware, cybercriminals physically infiltrate a business and use psychological attacks to steal data. A hacker may disguise himself as one of your business partners and plug a USB device containing malware into one of your devices.
Unlike issues that can be solved through technical means, preventing socially engineered attacks will depend on your company’s protocols. Having visitor policies in place will ensure that no suspicious individuals can enter your establishment and engage in questionable activities.
10. Insider Threats
Anyone who is currently or was previously associated with your organization can be labeled as an insider threat. Since your employees or former associates have accessed critical information about your company, there’s a possibility that they may cause a leak. While many insider breaches are done with malicious intent, some instances are caused by simple carelessness.
Luckily, there are many ways to eliminate insider threats in your company. Limiting access to certain information and files to only a few people will prevent both intentional and accidental leaks. At the same time, building a company culture that greatly emphasizes security will remind your employees to stay accountable for their actions.
Keep Your Precious Data Safe
Despite the rising number of data breaches, it’s unfortunate to know that many companies still take cybersecurity for granted. Only 14% of small businesses are prepared to deal with an attack; don’t be one of them.
Make it a point to revisit your company’s security protocols. In the event that you find gaps, acquiring comprehensive IT solutions will keep you out of reach of hackers. Visit our Cybersecurity Services page today to learn how we can help you.