The Top Cyber Security Threats for Small Businesses

Oct 15, 2021

Though data breaches and cyber security attacks on Fortune 500 companies are the ones that make headlines, small businesses are just at risk from these threats as larger organizations.

Many believe their business is too small to actually be targeted, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

These days, it’s become quite easy for hackers to target hundreds of small businesses at once. If your business lacks security, you’re much more likely to fall victim to one of these attacks. The less protection you have, the easier attackers will be able to access your data and information.

Larger organizations tend to have higher budgets for things such as IT and cyber security, allowing them to prioritize the defenses they need to stay safe online. This makes it much easier for hackers to target small businesses whose walls might not be as safeguarded.

Even the smallest hacks and breaches can lead to a loss of thousands, if not millions, of dollars for small businesses. These consequences can prove fatal for companies that don’t pay attention to their cyber security needs.

So, what can you do? The first step in protecting your small business against cyber security threats is to be aware of what you’re up against. Continue reading to learn more about what to look for when it comes to protecting your organization against cyber breaches.

 

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks happen when a cybercriminal sends an email that may look inconspicuous, enticing a user to click a malicious link, download a malicious file, or provide sensitive information. Attackers disguise themselves as a trusted contact, leading the user to let their guard down.

Examples might include an email from your organization stating you need to change your password or an email from your bank about your account being hacked. Many users read these types of emails and are prompted to take action right away.

Phishing is one of the most common forms of cyber security threats, as it has continued to grow throughout the past few years.

This cyber threat has become an even larger problem during the COVID-19 pandemic, as COVID-related phishing campaigns have added a new element to these attacks. Hackers will send COVID-19 related information to users under the guise of a trusted organization, leading employees to click on unsafe links and give cybercriminals access to their network.

Business Email Compromise (BEC) has also continued to grow, making it tougher for employees to tell what emails are real and what emails are part of a scam. BEC involves hackers using phishing emails to steal email accounts from executives, then using these high-level accounts to request payments from employees.

Though phishing scams can be hard to recognize, working with an established IT company will make it much easier for your organization to stay safe against these threats. Your IT partner can establish phishing protection software so that you no longer have to worry about the money, time, and energy you’d lose if a data breach were to occur.

These organizations can also help train your employees and ensure they know what to look for when it comes to their inbox. Phishing scams can certainly cost your small business, but the right protections can help you detect these attacks before they become a true problem.

 

Malware

Malware is defined as any software that is intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server, client, or network. Many cyber threats can be described as malware, including trojans, spyware, and viruses.

This type of code allows hackers to gain access to private networks and steal confidential data from small businesses of various sizes. Most malware comes from malicious downloads, emails, or infected devices.

Malware attacks are incredibly harmful to small businesses, as they can actually shut down devices. This can require costly repairs as well as downtime that many companies can’t afford.

Businesses can protect against malware attacks by prioritizing endpoint protection solutions and prioritizing their web security. Making sure all of your hardware is updated is another way for you to safeguard your organization. Outdated softwares and plugins leave your devices more vulnerable to attacks.

A strong IT partner will help you determine which protection software is best when it comes to defending your business against malware threats.

 

Ransomware

One of the most common cyber attacks, ransomware impacts thousands of small businesses each year. This type of threat involves encrypting data so that it cannot be used, forcing the organization to pay a ransom to access the data again.

No choice is beneficial, as businesses will either lose a large sum of money or data. This is why ransomware is something to take seriously when it comes to your cyber security measures.

Cybercriminals are only getting craftier with their approach to ransomware, which is why Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that a business will fall victim to a ransomware attack every 11 seconds in 2021 as compared to every 14 seconds in 2019.

Many hackers are aware of the fact that small businesses would rather pay a ransom since their data is less likely to be backed up and they’re unable to function without it. 

In order to combat ransomware, you’ll want to work with your IT provider to have an effective cloud backup solution in place. You’ll need to ensure this cloud solution is also protected, something we’ll touch on later in this article.

Having backup and recovery options will allow you to access your data immediately without having to pay any ransom or lose working time. 

 

Weak Passwords

Another cyber threat you’ll want to keep an eye on is the use of weak passwords by your employees. Short, common passwords are easy for hackers to guess, allowing them into your network with just a few clicks.

Cybercriminals use a variety of tactics when it comes to guessing passwords, many being effective if your passwords aren’t randomly generated and changed often.

There are a variety of password-generating tools that will help your organization use strong passwords that are tough to crack. 

You’ll also want to consider implementing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). MFA requires more than a password in order for someone to access a business account. This verification might include an additional passcode or even a fingerprint. This extra step blocks hackers from accessing accounts even if they’re able to guess the correct password.

 

Cloud Jacking

Does your organization use a company cloud? Though excellent for storing information, your cloud is at risk of being infiltrated by cybercriminals on a regular basis.

Attackers may access your company cloud and not only steal sensitive data, but spy on your employees and take control of the cloud entirely. 

Hackers might also use the cloud as a means of phishing, sending malicious files and memos to the cloud. Employees, seeing that the information has come from the company software, would have a tough time realizing that what they’re experiencing is actually a cyber threat.

With the number of remote workers continuing to rise, cloud-based applications are a key benefit for small businesses. However, if left unprotected, your company cloud can be an open door for hackers across the globe. 

A reliable IT partner will help you protect your cloud from intruders and ensure your data is protected from all sides.

 

IoT Devices

The use of the Internet of Things (IoT) is continuously growing and involves the use of devices such as laptops, tablets, smartwatches, appliances, home security systems, and more. If your device can access the internet, then it’s at risk of cyber security attacks.

The more connected devices your small business has the higher your risk of being hacked. Once cybercriminals gain access to these devices, they can then access sensitive data and even lock these devices down entirely. 

If your business has begun to use smart locks, security cameras, smart thermostats, or any AI devices, you’ll want to talk to your IT provider about how to prevent hackers from targeting them. IoT devices are an asset to most small businesses, but they should be an integral part of your cyber security conversations should you want to prevent any data breaches from occurring. 

 

Insider Threats

Insider threats posed by those working for your small business are an active cyber security threat that many organizations don’t consider. Employees might be acting intentionally to harm the company or accidentally, not knowing that what they’re doing can have serious consequences for the organization as a whole.

Remote work has opened employees up to even more security risks, which is why your business should prioritize how to stop insider threats. A Verizon report found that 34% of cyberattacks in 2019 came about because of internal employees’ actions, whether intentional or not.

Luckily, your IT partner can provide you with a variety of tools to combat these threats. Unauthorized logins, unsafe apps, and more can be monitored through the use of cyber security software.

Your small business should provide employees with regular cyber security training, so each user is aware of the mistakes they need to avoid to keep the company safe.

Businesses should also take the time to see which employees have access to what information, and only share sensitive data to those who truly need it. 

When you work with the right IT provider, all of these cyber threats are taken into account so you don’t have to worry about their harmful impacts. Send us a message today to learn more about how we can work together to protect your business from ransomware, cloud jacking, and more!

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