The biggest cybersecurity threats small businesses face and how you can protect yourself Small businesses are just as threatened as large ones by vulnerabilities.
As attackers increasingly automate their attacks, it is easy for them to target hundreds or even thousands of small businesses at once. Smaller businesses often have less rigorous technology defenses, are less aware of threats, and have less time and resources to devote to cybersecurity. They, therefore, constitute an easier target for hackers than large companies.
But they are no less lucrative targets. Even very small businesses can handle large sums of money or have access to huge amounts of customer data, which they are required to protect under regulations such as GDPR. Small businesses also often work with larger firms, and so they can be used by hackers as a way to target those businesses.
Small businesses have the most to lose in the event of a damaging cyberattack. A recent report found that companies with fewer than 500 employees lose an average of $2.5 million per attack. Losing this amount of money to a cyberattack is devastating for small businesses, not to mention the reputational damage that comes with it.
This is why small businesses need to be aware of the threats facing them and how to counter them. This article outlines the top five threats to business security and explains how companies can protect themselves from them.
The biggest, most damaging, and most pervasive threat small businesses face is phishing.
Phishing causes 90% of all breaches businesses face, has increased by 65% in the past year, and is responsible for over €12 billion in losses for companies. Businesses.
PLEASE NOTE: Phishing attacks occur when a hacker poses as a trusted contact and tricks a user into clicking a malicious link, downloading a malicious file, or giving them access to sensitive information, details, accounts, or proof of identity.
Phishing attacks have become much more sophisticated in recent years, with attackers becoming more convincing in posing as legitimate business contacts. There is also an increase in business email compromise, which involves malicious actors using phishing campaigns to steal passwords to corporate email accounts from high-level executives and then using these accounts to request payments from employees fraudulently.
Part of the reason phishing attacks are so damaging is that they are so difficult to combat.
They use social engineering to target people within a company rather than addressing technological weaknesses. However, there are technical defenses against phishing attacks.
Setting up an email security gateway
Having a strong email security gateway in place, like Proofpoint Essentials or Mimecast, can prevent phishing emails from reaching your employees’ inboxes. Cloud-based email security providers can also secure your business against phishing attacks. These solutions allow users to report phishing emails and then allow administrators to delete them from all user inboxes.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is also very important when it comes to reducing phishing risks. The AMF applies an additional layer of security to the authentication process when users log into an account. This is usually an SMS code, a notification on a trusted device, or biometric verification, such as a fingerprint or FaceID scan.
With MFA in place, even if an attacker manages to compromise an account’s username and password using phishing methods, they still won’t be able to access your account without this additional, known information only from the user.
The final layer of security to protect emails from phishing attacks is security awareness training. These solutions allow you to protect your employees by testing and training them to spot and report phishing attacks.
Malware is the second biggest threat to small businesses.
We have written a comprehensive article on malware here.
They encompass a range of cyber threats, such as Trojans and viruses. Malware is malicious code created by hackers to gain access to networks, steal data, or destroy data on computers. Malware usually comes from downloading malicious websites, spam emails, or connecting to other infected machines or devices.
These attacks are particularly harmful to small businesses because they can cripple devices, requiring costly repairs or replacements. They can also give attackers a backdoor to access data, which can put customers and employees at risk. Small businesses are more likely to employ people who use their own devices for work, as this saves time and costs. However, this increases the likelihood of experiencing a malware attack, as personal devices are much more likely to be exposed to malicious downloads.
Businesses can prevent malware attacks by putting strong technology defenses in place. Endpoint protection solutions protect devices from malware downloads and provide administrators with a central control panel to manage devices and ensure all users’ security is up to date. Web security is also important because it prevents users from visiting malicious web pages and downloading malware.
Ransomware is one of the most common cyberattacks, hitting thousands of businesses each year.
These attacks are becoming more and more common, as they are one of the most lucrative forms of aggression. Ransomware involves encrypting company data so that it cannot be used or accessed, then forcing the company to pay a ransom to unlock the data. Companies are then faced with a difficult choice: pay the ransom and risk losing huge sums of money or cripple their services by losing their data.
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to this type of Ransomware attack.
Reports have shown that 71% of ransomware attacks target small businesses, with an average ransom demand of €116,000.
Attackers know that small businesses are much more likely to pay a ransom because their data is often not backed up, and they need to get up and running as quickly as possible. The healthcare industry is particularly affected by this type of attack, as locking outpatient medical records and appointment times can damage a business to the point where it has no choice but to shut down unless a ransom has been paid.
To prevent these attacks, businesses must implement effective endpoint protection on all business devices.
These will help prevent ransomware attacks from being able to encrypt data effectively. The SentinelOne endpoint protection solution even offers a “ransomware rollback” feature, which allows businesses to detect and mitigate ransomware attacks very quickly.
The cloud backup solution
Businesses should also consider implementing an effective cloud backup solution. These solutions backup company data securely in the cloud, helping to mitigate data loss. There are different data backup methods for organizations, so it’s important to research which way will work best for your organization.
The benefit of implementing data backup and recovery is that in the event of a ransomware attack, IT teams can quickly recover their data without having to pay a ransom or lose productivity. This is an important step towards better cyber resilience.
Employees who use weak or easy-to-guess passwords pose another big threat to small businesses. Many small companies use multiple cloud-based services, which require different accounts. These services can often contain sensitive data and financial information. Using easy-to-guess passwords or using the same passwords for multiple accounts can compromise this data.
Small businesses are often at risk of compromise due to the use of weak passwords by their employees due to a general lack of awareness of the damage they can cause. On average, 19% of professionals use easy-to-guess passwords or share passwords across multiple accounts.
To ensure employees use strong passwords, users should consider enterprise password management technologies. These platforms help employees manage passwords for all their accounts, suggesting strong passwords that cannot be easily cracked.
Businesses should also consider implementing multi-factor authentication technologies. As we mentioned, these solutions ensure that users need more than just a password to access company accounts. This includes implementing multiple verification steps, such as an access code sent to a mobile device.
These security controls help prevent hackers from gaining access to business accounts, even if they can crack a weak password.
You can read verified reviews of the best enterprise password management solutions and the best multi-factor authentication solutions on the Expert Insights site.
The last big threat small businesses face is the insider threat. An insider threat is a risk to an organization caused by the actions of employees, former employees, contractors, or associates. These actors may have access to critical data about your business, and they may cause harm through greed, malice, or simply ignorance and negligence. Verizon found that 25% of data breaches were due to insider threats.
This is a growing problem that can put employees and customers at risk or cause financial damage to the business. In small companies, insider threats are increasing as more employees have access to multiple accounts, which contain more data. Studies have shown that 62% of employees reported having access to funds they probably didn’t need to access.
To block insider threats, small businesses need to ensure they have a strong culture of security awareness within their organization. This will help stop insider threats due to ignorance and help employees quickly spot instances where a hacker has compromised or is attempting to compromise company data.
Also Read: The Importance Of Cybersecurity For SMEs