Unfortunately, small businesses are the most likely to experience cyberattacks, and are typically in a bad position to recover from them if they happen. This combination makes it entirely possible for a single attack to be all that’s needed to completely destroy a small business enterprise.
Given this fact, small companies need to be prepared for any eventualities.
There are some basic tips that small businesses can put in place to prevent the most basic and intermediate cybersecurity risks. However, even with these implemented, it’s important to contract the services of cybersecurity experts that can ensure more advanced gaps in security are plugged. For businesses based in the United Kingdom, an IT supplier in London is a good choice to ensure expert treatment.
It can also help for small business owners and employees to not only keep in mind techniques to mitigate risks, but to know about specific threats they’re likely to be subject to.
This article discusses everything business owners need to know about cybersecurity to better protect themselves against any threat that comes their way.
What Threats Are Small Businesses Most Likely to Face?
Hackers and other online criminals tend to employ only the most basic tricks to gain access to smaller businesses. We’ll cover the more basic forms of cyberattacks here – anything more advanced requires the dedicated services of an IT support or cybersecurity business.
The five most common methods include the following:-
Phishing: This is the most warned-against cyberattack, with many laypeople knowledgeable about them. Phishing attacks can target both employees and customers. When they target customers, it tends to be to gain access to their user account and steal personal data, funds, or make unauthorized purchases.
When phishing attacks target employees, they’re often known as business email compromise scams. A criminal sends an email to an employee, typically designed to look as official as possible, to trick the employee into entering their company account details (which gives the cybercriminal access to the company’s software) or to open a link that downloads ransomware onto their systems. The financial impact is incredible, with over $26 billion stolen between 2016-2019 alone.
Ransomware:- While phishing can be a route to a ransomware attack, it can also occur from employees downloading malicious files from suspicious websites on company computers.
What this does is take the company systems ‘for ransom’ by locking and encrypting all data until a certain ransom is paid, typically to a bitcoin address. Many times, companies are clueless on how to proceed and end up having to pay the ransom, which can do serious financial damage to the business.
Malware:- This includes cyberattacks like viruses and trojan horses. These are pieces of software written either to simply damage a system or network with no other goal, but some of these do this while also attempting to steal data or give the cybercriminal access to the business’ systems.
Compromised or Weak Passwords:– When employees use weak or common passwords, cybercriminals simply need to guess them when attempting to hack into company computers. In other cases, they may purchase databases of previously compromised passwords attached to email addresses and attempt the same password.
Insider Threats:- This is a cyberattack that originates due to either malice, ignorance, or carelessness from within the company. These can be either ‘turncloaks’ who are willing participants stealing company data or opening the systems up for an attack from the outside, or ‘pawns’ who are unaware that they are playing a role in the compromise. Thirty percent of data breaches recorded in Verizon’s Data Breach Report of 2020 were a consequence of internal actors.
11 Tips to Protect Small Businesses from Cyber-Threats
Now that we’ve covered the common threats that small businesses (and even medium and large ones) are likely to face, it’s important to cover how these can be prevented to protect your business.
This section discusses each common threat and general tips to help keep attacks at bay.
To protect against phishing attempts, employees need to pay close attention to the addresses that their emails come from. Criminals try their best to use an account that resembles the actual one but differs in a minor fashion. For example, the actual domain may be @computers.co.uk but the phishing email comes from @computers.org or @c0mputers.co.uk. By keeping their eyes open, employees can avoid falling for such traps.
To prevent malware and ransomware attacks, employees shouldn’t use the business’ systems for any personal downloads. These are mostly acquired by downloading from shady websites. Having full backups of system data can be a contingency against ransomware attacks.
Browsers like Chrome inform users that their password has been compromised if it’s found in a public database. Employees should change their passwords if this happens. Also, they should be warned against using basic passwords such as ‘password’, ‘abcdefg’, ‘12345678’, their date of birth or name, and other things that are relatively easy to guess.
Insider threats are more difficult to protect against, especially in cases of turncloaks. Pawns can be properly oriented to reduce their risk, but turncloaks can be more difficult to discover. Partnering with an IT firm can make it possible to develop a plan to identify potential turncloaks early as well as to deal with their aftermath.
General cybersecurity tips include the following:-
- Employees should avoid downloading anything personal on company computers.
- Operating systems should be updated regularly to patch known vulnerabilities.
- Workers should be informed on how to construct a strong password.
- Back up and encrypt company data as frequently as possible.
- Have an IT consultancy firm on deck to protect against and resolve cyberattacks.
- Use paid firewall and antivirus software for the best protection.
- Use separate devices for work and personal use as much as possible.
Protecting Your Small Business Against Cyberthreats
Employees and owners need to be well-versed with the potential threats that they may face as a small business. Knowing the nature of these threats and how to mitigate the risk is a major step towards preventing these eventualities.
Employing an IT company that specializes in cybersecurity can help stop preventable attacks and ensure that a business is protected against even advanced threats.