Small businesses are increasingly becoming targets for cybercriminals who see them as easy targets due to their often-limited cybersecurity resources. In fact, a recent study found that over half of small businesses have experienced a cyber-attack in the past year alone.
With more employees working remotely and relying on digital tools in order to carry out their job, the risk of cyberattacks has never been higher. In this blog post we’ll explore 5 cybersecurity threats facing small businesses today and provide tips on how you can best protect your business from threats such as these.
Phishing attacks are a type of social engineering attack where attackers, scammers or hackers trick people into giving away sensitive information by posing as a trustworthy entity.
These attacks can take many forms such as emails where users are enticed to click on a malicious link or file, phone calls where people are encouraged to provide their internet banking information or passwords and now, even text messages can include links and downloads for malicious files – with being so varied, they can often be difficult to detect.
Phishing attacks are the biggest and most widespread threat facing small businesses. Over the years, we have seen phishing attacks becoming much more sophisticated along with the growth in technology such as AI, and due to the fact they use social engineering to target humans within the business rather than the businesses technological weaknesses, unless you are aware of this type of attack, they can be difficult to combat. There are, however, a number of ways you can look to prevent falling prey.
Training and awareness can be a huge help to protecting your business from phishing. Educating your employees and providing training which helps them to identify phishing emails such as looking out for spelling errors, and ensuring they understand the importance of verifying senders email address of who they are speaking to on the phone is a great first step in protecting business assets.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is very important when it comes to
mitigating the risks of phishing. As discussed in our previous blog post, MFA applies an extra layer of security to the authentication process when users attempt to log into an account. This is commonly delivered as a SMS-code, or a biometric check such as a fingerprint or FaceID. With MFA in place, if an attacker is able to compromise the account name or password using their phishing methods – they would still fall short when met with this second layer of security.
Installing anti phishing software and keeping software including your web browser up to date with the latest security patches and updates can help prevent hackers exploiting vulnerabilities.
Ransomware is a malware that encrypts a victims files and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to this type of attack because they often lack the funds needed to recover from such an attack, or to even pay the initial ransom in the first place. Ransomware can be devastating in many ways including the risk of lost data, financial loss, downtime in the business while dealing with the attack and potential fines for non-regulatory compliance if sensitive data is affected or accessed. There are ways that businesses can protect themselves from such attacks,
Regularly backing up business data to a secure location that is not connected
to your network can help ensure that data can be recovered in the event of a
ransomware attack. We recommend a cloud storage solution, which you can
read more about on our services page.
Using antimalware software can help detect and prevent ransomware attacks
and can block known ransomware threats while monitoring for suspicious
activity. We can assist you with the installation and updates of this.
Despite best efforts, you may still fall foul to a ransomware attack so it’s best
to be prepared for this eventuality so you can deal with it quickly, and efficiently, should you need to.
A response plan should include steps for isolating infected systems, recovering data from backups and the reporting of attacks to relevant authorities.
Insider threats refer to a threat that comes from within the organization itself, for example,
through the actions of an employee. This can also include actions from a contractor, third
party vendor who have access to sensitive information. Insider threats can be either intentional, or unintentional, such as through careless behaviour – and run the risk of data breaches, theft and/or sabotage. Insider threats can include data theft, sabotage, fraud, reputation damage and compliance violations.
Often in small businesses, the team all have access to files, documentations and information
that perhaps they don’t need access to, in order to complete their jobs. To avoid this, small
businesses may want to consider implementing controls based on individual roles so that
they can more easily manage and monitor the access to sensitive data.
Businesses should have policies in place in regards to safe data handling and be prepared to
train staff on the handling of such data, as well as best practices in protecting data and files.
Policies can also include the acceptable use of technology such as work laptops and computers. Fraud is a contributor to insider threats and to avoid such risk, regular audits and a policy for reporting suspected fraud should be in place.
Insider threats can violate regulatory compliance requirements such as HIPAA. To avoid this,
small businesses should also implement procedures and make sure they are aware of regulations. Regulatory compliance requirements may differ in relevance depending on your business industry or clients.
Weak or easily guessed passwords continue to be a threat to businesses. Many small
businesses rely on multiple cloud based services such as Dropbox which require different
accounts to log in. These services can contain all sorts of sensitive date, from financial information to
client date. Using easily guessed, common passwords – or the same password across all
accounts, can play a key role in this data being accessed.
Using Multi-Factor Authentication can help with securing accounts, as can using a business password management technology – this sort of platform helps employees manage password for accounts by suggesting strong passwords that are not easily guessed.
Advanced Persistent Threats (ATPs) are a type of cyber attack that are designed to gain
unauthorized access to a network or system and remain undetected for a long period of
time. ATPs are usually carried out by highly skilled and well-funded attackers, such as
criminal organisations. ATPs can be devastating for small businesses due to the loss of data,
and damage reputation. There are steps that can be taken to protect about ATPs including:
Using network segmentation can isolate sensitive data and systems from the rest of the
network, this will allow you to limit the impact of a successful attack.
Monitor tour network for signs of suspicious activity, such as a large amounts of data
transferred to external sources or unusual log in patterns.
Conduct regular audits to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the system which will
allow you to act on issues promptly to help mitigate an attack.
Although advancements in technology is causing more sneaky cybersecurity attacks, the
good news is that businesses have many options out there which can help protect them
from attacks, or from the severity of the attacks.
We hope that this blog has got you thinking about your own business security, and if there
are any IT support areas we can help you with – reach out to us today!