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4 Cyber Security Threats for Small Businesses and How to Prevent Them

Techlife   -  

May 29, 2024

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Some small businesses think that they are just too small to be targeted by cybercriminals, but that is simply not true for two reasons. Criminals diversified and automated their attacks, so they could easily target tons of small businesses at once. Secondly, these businesses store a massive amount of client information and usually do not have the expertise or the budget to protect that data. This makes them the perfect target for cyber attacks. In order to make these businesses aware of the threats they face, and suggest ways to protect against them, we’ve created an in-depth guide for cyber security threats for small businesses.

Top 4 Cyber Security Threats for Small Businesses

Small businesses are as attractive targets for hackers as giant companies. Most of the threats faced by big enterprises are also the same threats targeting small businesses. A vast majority of these threats are focused on the user data stored in these companies’ networks. It’s also worth mentioning that small businesses can still work with larger companies, so they can be used as a gateway to them. 

1. Malware attacks 

Malware attacks are common in both big and smaller businesses, and they vary. Trojans, ransomware, and viruses are all called malware attacks; they are all malicious codes designed to gain access to a private network. These attacks are a big threat because they are more common than you think; according to Statista, there have been 2.8 billion malware attacks just in the first half of 2022.

One of the most dangerous types of these attacks is called ransomware; which is a type of code that locks the authorized user out of the device and gives access to the attacker. The criminal then goes on to ask for a ransom to give the access back, which can seriously cripple small businesses. Once the attack happens, it is challenging to get access back and massive data loss is a real possibility. 

2. Phishing attacks 

Phishing attacks are potentially the greatest threat to small businesses around the world. The main purpose of a phishing attack is to gather sensitive data such as financial information or passwords through deception. The attacker uses an email or a website to look like a trustable source and tricks the user into sharing personal information. 

Business email compromise (BEC) is a detrimental threat for small businesses due to their size; a single attack can create a butterfly effect and bring down all of their business and ruin their brand reputation.

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3. Insider threats 

Forbes state that 34% of businesses deal with some type of insider breach. Insider threats consist of human errors, malicious users, or compromised credentials and devices. It is when an authorized user causes a cyber attack on a private network. 

One of the most common causes of an insider threat is stolen user credentials. Most people use insecure passwords which can easily be compromised, and that’s why companies are adopting additional verification methods. 

If the architecture and the role assignments of an organization’s network are not properly designed, a simple insider threat can cause immense damage due to an increased attack zone. Small businesses lacking this quality thus face insider threats more than others. 

4. Remote workforce & public Wi-Fi

Insecure remote access and the use of public Wi-Fi connections are especially threatening small businesses. The main reason is small businesses use remote work as a way to cut down on budget by hiring worldwide, but they do not necessarily have the means to secure the connection of their remote workforce.

Remote workforce & public Wi-Fi

The connections and personal devices used by remote employees are not always secure, so it creates a significant threat for outsiders to sneak into their private network and steal sensitive data. 

Recommended reading: 6 WordPress Security Issues: Cybersecurity Risks of Managing

The 3 Tips for Small Businesses to Prevent Cyber Threats

We’ve mentioned all the major cyber threats small businesses face, and it sure sounds intimidating. But with some small investments and policies, even companies with limited budgets can prevent or at least minimize these threats. Below you’ll find some of these tools and practices which you can implement easily. 

1. Data backups

As we mentioned earlier, ransomware is still one of the most prominent cyberattacks on smaller businesses. Since security regulations such as GDPR enforces user data to be protected at all costs, businesses do not have a way around it but to pay the ransom if an attack happens.

Data backups
Cloud Service Concept Isolated on grey Gradient Background. Vector Illustration EPS 10.

But if you regularly back up your systems, you can still recover from a ransomware attack. In cybersecurity, it is always a good practice to think afterward of an attack, so regular backups offer a way to prevent data loss. This can be done through online providers for very reasonable prices. 

2. Business VPN tools

Virtual Private Network (VPN) tools were expensive and hard to implement until the emergence of cloud-based VPN solutions offered as a service by online vendors. These solutions usually do not require any hardware, are affordable since they are based on per-person fees, and are easily scalable. Additionally, for users in Mexico, accessing content or services restricted to other regions can be facilitated by using a “Mexico VPN” allowing for secure and private internet browsing from anywhere in the world.

Business VPN tools

In essence, the main purpose of these tools is to encrypt and secure all the communication between your users and the server and provide secure remote access. Using a business VPN effectively minimizes remote work security threats and helps you secure user data, overseas connections, and protection against the hazards of public Wi-Fi. 

3. Cybersecurity policies and role assignments

This practice mainly mitigates insider threats through company policies and clear permissions thanks to assigned roles. Even if you have a small business with only a handful of employees, you need to think of your company as a greater entity consisting of smaller units. 

Preparing a list of cybersecurity policies that define the roles and permissions of each team and unit will help you create smaller components, thus mitigating insider risks. If your employees have different access permissions based on their roles and know the dos and don’ts, you’ll have a much more hygienic structure that is easy to monitor and protect. You can do this by outsourcing an expert and investing in access management tools.

Conclusion 

Small businesses face cyber threats each and every day, and the downside of these companies is that they are not always ready to defend against them. Big enterprises have dedicated security teams to fend off these threats, but small businesses need easy, affordable, and maintenance-free solutions. 

From risks associated with remote work to ransomware attacks, the diversity of attacks certainly seems uncontrollable. However, even with the simplest measures and budget-friendly tools we mentioned above, you still have a chance to protect your company and your customers. Whenever you doubt whether the investment is worth it, think about the potential business loss and trouble with authorities in the case of a successful attack.

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