Common Cyber Security Threats that Small Businesses ExperienceVanessa Venugopal
Now that we are forced to stay in and practice social distancing during this current pandemic, more and more small business owners start their online shop or a remote workspace. As small businesses move to online platforms increase, the number of risks also increases.
Like large enterprises, small businesses are at risk online. In fact, small business owners are often the target of hackers. Cybercriminals are aware that small businesses don’t invest resources to protect their data.
When your business becomes a target by these hackers, you could lose everything, all your clients’ and customers’ data, your money, and even the reputation of your business. Therefore, it’s best to educate oneself about cybersecurity and the common threats that businesses online can encounter.
Below are common threats businesses encounter and what do to for you to avoid these threats.
Common Threats Encountered by Small Businesses
One of the most common and difficult to combat forms of online threats. Last year alone, 90% of data breaches were due to phishing attacks. This occurs when a hacker pretends to become a trusted person and manipulate people to click on the link, download a malicious file, or ask them to provide sensitive information by logging in to a fake website.
It even gets more difficult to detect, as hackers’ techniques are becoming more sophisticated. Cybercriminals are good at pretending to be a legitimate business contact.
There is also a rise in Business Email Compromise (BEM), which costs a loss of $12 billion. BEM involves a hacker stealing business emails and passwords of executives to request payments from employees.
Hackers using phishing methods have various ways to deploy their attacks. It could be through email, text messages, or a fake website. They trick people to provide them the information they need like an email address and a password. They use this information to access bank accounts, businesses customers’ information, and more.
Another threat that small businesses commonly encounter is Malware. It varies from Trojan, virus, worms, to spyware and adware. It’s a usual online threat since it’s easy to deploy. Malware is a malicious code that once it gains access to a computer or website, it can steal and destroy the data or damage the device.
Since small business owners use their own device or hire someone who uses their own device, this puts the business at risk. Malware often comes from downloading a malicious app or web content, email spams, or connecting to an infected device.
Using a personal device is a threat to small businesses unless precaution is practice.
Ransomware is another common cybersecurity threat that affects small businesses. It accounts for 20% of attacks that small to mid-sized businesses encounter. It involves encrypting a company’s data to avoid access to it, and after which, demands a ransom to release the data. Most small businesses pay the ransom even without the guarantee that the data would be returned.
Each year the number of ransom paid by businesses is getting higher, but it’s not the only problem. Ransomware also affects the operational time of a business.
There are two ways cybercriminals can lock your data. They could lock the whole computer or lock a specific file in your system. Ransomware is often caused by receiving a phishing email that contains a malicious attachment or from a pop-up advertisement.
Distributed Denials of Service (DDoS)
DDoS is an attack that affects a business or website’s operational time. The hacker will use multiple computers to deploy the attack. It will overload a website with an increased volume of traffic that could slow down the site or shut down the server completely.
Since your site is overloaded with unnecessary traffic, your real customers will find it difficult to enter your website. This downtime in your server can affect your sales, and you could lose your customers.
Most employees are not aware of the consequence of using a weak password. The unawareness of your employees can cause a threat to your business. Using a weak password makes it easy for hackers to enter your website or gain access to your data in the cloud or on your hard drive.
Besides using a weak password, sharing a password can harm your business too. Weak passwords cause 81% of data breaches that most businesses encounter. Once hackers guess your password, it would be easy for them to access your data or your customers’ information.
The threats mentioned above are commonly encountered by businesses, but there are also other ways hackers can get to your business. Some of these attacks that are worth mentioning are:
- Unsecured Wi-Fi connection
- Social engineering
- Insider threats
- Lost/ stolen device
How to Protect Your Business?
These threats seem to be overwhelming, and when you run a small business, you can’t afford to be a victim of these cybercriminals. However, there are ways to protect your business, employees, customers, and you from attacks like these.
- Don’t click on links. You must beware of suspicious links when received in an email, even though it looks like it comes from your trusted bank or insurance company. Remember not to click on any link on your email inbox, instead type the web address of the company into your browser. Or, if you received an email from someone you know, make sure to confirm if the email is sent by them.
- Take note of common phishing language hackers use. You have to notice this language to avoid them. They often use the “Verify your Account” line, ask your email or other personal information, appear to be urgent, or warn you that your account is compromised.
- Check the authenticity of a website before logging in. There must be a padlock sign on the web address bar. Check if the name in the padlock matches the name of the organization.
- Install multi-layered security software to protect your device from all threats.
- Use web security protection such as Bitdefender Internet Security, Kaspersky Total Security, and more.
- Make sure to update all apps and software.
- Back up all your files daily or once a week to the cloud and on a hard drive.
- Use a Virtual Private Network to secure your network when connecting to a public Wi-Fi.
- Use two-factor authentication.
- Install firewalls for your network and your computer.
- Educate employees about cybersecurity and threats.
- Create a strong password.
Although there is no 100% guarantee that all these ways to protect your business will work, at least you can save your business from being an easy target. Find the best software and try these comprehensive tools and plans to keep your data safe. These tools and tips may cost a little amount of money, but it can help protect your business and avoid being targeted by hackers.