Cybersecurity Risks for Small Businesses

There’s no question, cybersecurity is a major concern for everyone these days and it affects every business from big to small. In fact, small businesses have a lot more to lose simply because they don’t have the resources bigger business do.

In today’s landscape, 43 percent of cyber attacks specifically target small business. Despite this, only 14 percent of small businesses believe they are able to mitigate cyber risks, vulnerabilities, and attacks effectively. Even more frightening is the fact that some 60 percent of small businesses fail within six months of a major cyber attack.

While these statistics highlight the need to deal with cybersecurity risks, they don’t provide any insights as to how you should go about it. What can a small business do to prevent such attacks, or more importantly mitigate the damage caused when they do happen? What risks should you be concerned with most?

Common Cyberattacks on Small Businesses

There are countless ways for thieves and hackers to launch digital attacks on a company and its data, but some are more common than others. We’re going to highlight the risks that SMBs should prioritize here.

1. Man in the Middle

To distribute content, web browsers connect to remote servers online which they both send and receive data from. A “man in the middle” attack means that one of these servers is manipulated, or web browsers are redirected to a compromised server. As a result, the data is then stolen and used for nefarious means.

How to Prevent It: Ensure that any sites you, your employees and your customers’ visit are protected by encryption, usually denoted by the HTTPS preface.

2. Phishing

Phishing is one of the most common types of cyberattacks, but they’re also fairly easy to spot if you know what to look for. Phishing attacks are all about collecting sensitive personal information, and it’s done by impersonating an official portal, app or communication. Hackers might send an email that looks like it’s from Apple, for example, asking you to provide your account password.

How to Prevent It: The trick to phishing is to simply pay attention to the URLs you are visiting, particularly the sending address of emails you are reading, as well as the source of any portal. If it doesn’t match the official channel then you know it’s not to be trusted.

3. Malware and Ransomware

Malware is essentially malicious code that infects a computer, similar to a virus, with the express intent of spying on and collecting sensitive data. Ransomware is an offset of malware that does exactly as the name implies, it holds users and the device at ransom until they pay to remove it.

How to Prevent It: Obviously, using proper malware and anti-virus tools is necessary. If and when ransomware takes over a system NEVER pay the ransom. There is absolutely nothing motivating the hackers from removing the malicious code if you do what they claim; in fact, they almost always will take your money and run.

4. DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

DDoS attacks happen when hackers organize a massive traffic influx on remote servers, explicitly intending to overwhelm the system. This takes the server offline because it can handle the influx of traffic ruining experiences for everyone. One of the most infamous is the 2016 attack that took down sites like Netflix, Twitter, Paypal, and Reddit.

How to Prevent It: Sadly, a small business cannot ever hope to mitigate or prevent DDoS attacks on their own. The best way to deal with this problem is to subscribe to a third-party service — Cloudflare is one of the most popular.

5. Internal Hacks

Believe it or not, some cyberattacks will originate from inside your ranks. Employees, contractors, vendors, and clients that may have had insider access use it for nefarious means. Some will even use their exclusive access to steal valuable data and then ransom the business for assurance they won’t sell or reveal it.

How to Prevent It: The best way to prevent insider-based hacks is to limit network and system access by preventing widespread authorization. For example, you need only provide vendors and employees with access to exactly what they need, nothing more. When someone is fired or a working relationship ends, revoke access as soon as possible.

Act Now to Mitigate Serious Damage

For most, cybersecurity attacks are an inevitability which means it’s important to mitigate the damage they can cause. You can do this by following the tips discussed here, and by deploying some of the more obvious protection measures. Always have virus and malware software tools in place. Limit access to your internal network and retain control over who and what has access. Finally, do regular audits and security checkups to help eliminate potential risks.

If you’re safe and smart, you can prevent the frightening out-of-business statistic from happening to you.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.