Today, it is almost impossible for small businesses to survive if they’re not represented online. And while building an online presence can indeed bring significant benefits for your small business, from expanding your target audience to cultivating customer relationships, it entails some risks as well.
One of them, and perhaps the most significant, is becoming susceptible to cyber-attacks and threats of various kinds. In order to secure your business’s sensitive information and your customers’ personal data – exactly what cybercriminals look for – it is crucial to implement cybersecurity measures and have a business continuity plan in place.
In addition, you should also educate yourself and your employees on various types of cyber threats that are putting your business in danger and ways to avoid them. They include but are not limited to malware, phishing emails, insider threats, denial-of-service attacks, zero-day exploits, and man-in-the-middle attacks. Here is what you need to know about them.
An insider threat is an individual who has authorized access to a business’s computer system and uses it to steal or modify sensitive data or disrupt business operations. In order to protect your business against insider threats, you should educate your employees on cybersecurity best practices, implement an information security policy, and enforce the use of strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.
On top of that, it may be a good idea to use cloud-based solutions such as Rescale. Unless the person gains access to login credentials and two-factor authentication codes, they will not be able to access the servers and your data. Even if the device is stolen, it is protected from unauthorized access.
Malware refers to malicious software that can be downloaded onto your computer without your knowledge in order to steal information or cause damage to your data. When it comes to small businesses, malware is one of the most significant threats as it is used to steal sensitive data such as credit card information and online banking credentials, which cybercriminals use for identity theft and fraud.
The most popular form of malware is ransomware. It is a type of malicious program that encrypts all your files and demands payment in exchange for their decryption key, often referred to as a “ransom.” Cybercriminals use ransomware to extort money from businesses or individuals, and it is a major threat to small businesses as well since they don’t have the resources to fight it.
Cybercriminals are using phishing emails more frequently than before in order to gain unauthorized access to confidential information. A typical phishing email contains a link that leads to a fake website in an attempt to fool users into entering their login credentials or downloading malware onto their computers.
Phishing emails are a type of social engineering attack that aims to trick users into clicking on a link or opening an attachment spoofing a real email from your bank or any other service provider. It is often hard to spot a fake email as scammers create very realistic-looking emails and send them from compromised or spoofed email accounts.
A denial-of-service attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt or halt your computer’s services. These attacks are often carried out by hackers using a botnet – a network of infected computers that are controlled using malware. The botnet is often used as a platform for launching DDoS attacks.
DDoS attacks – distributed denial-of-service – are considered to be the most common cyber threat for small businesses as they can cause significant damage without any monetary investment. DDoS attacks work by flooding a website with so many requests that it crashes and becomes inaccessible.
Other ways to disrupt your business include attacking the devices that form an integral part of your business continuity plans, such as your firewalls and routers. For example, a DDoS attack can significantly reduce your firewall’s performance, increasing the risk of it being breached or preventing legit visitors from accessing your website.
A zero-day exploit refers to a security flaw in software or firmware that is unknown to the vendor. It allows cybercriminals to access your computer and install malware, which they can then use for various purposes.
Zero-day exploits are considered to be one of the most severe security threats for small businesses because they can render your antivirus software ineffective. The reason for this is that antivirus programs rely on data about previously discovered security flaws in order to detect malicious files. However, with zero-day exploits, the security flaw is unknown, so your antivirus software often cannot detect it.
Also known as MITM attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks make unauthorized connections to your computer and intercept traffic between you and your intended destination in order to steal sensitive information. These kinds of attacks are often used to steal user login credentials or credit card information.
The most common MITM attacks are ARP spoofing and DNS spoofing, which are usually carried out by hackers who have gained unauthorized access to your local network. To protect yourself from MITM attacks, you should ensure that all your systems are using secure connection methods and stay vigilant when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
A password attack is a type of cyber threat that aims to gain unauthorized access to your computer system by cracking your login credentials. It is carried out by using a brute-force attack, which is a program that repeatedly attempts to log in to your system with various password combinations until it finds the correct one.
To protect your business against password attacks, you should choose a strong password and use different passwords for different accounts. You should also update your passwords regularly and install a two-factor authentication system that requires users to enter a one-time password generated on separate devices in addition to their regular password to log in to your systems.
Every small business is a target for cybercriminals who are always looking for vulnerabilities to exploit. With the right cybersecurity measures in place, you can protect yourself from cyber threats, but it is up to you to stay vigilant and keep your systems updated with the latest patches.
In addition, you should educate your employees on cybersecurity best practices and enforce the use of strong passwords and multi-factor authentication to prevent them from falling prey to cyber-attacks.