Cybersecurity threats are a serious concern for everyone who uses the internet or computers, whether you are an individual, a small business, or a major enterprise. Of course, small businesses have their own unique threats that they should be aware of. Between concerning facts that will open your eyes to the potential problems and a closer look at the threats, it will become clear that cybersecurity is something all small businesses should take seriously.
7 Small Business Cybersecurity Threats
A Look at the Potential for Damage
For those small businesses that are not concerned about cybersecurity because they feel online threats are not that serious, take a look at the potential for damage and the possible cost of a data breach or virus. MyDoom is widely considered the most expensive of viruses in the history of cybersecurity, with the estimated financial damage sitting at $38.5 billion. It was transmitted via email, and the vast figure of total financial damage is due to it targeting small businesses in addition to individuals and medium to large companies; everyone was a target.
Your Favorite Programs Have Software Vulnerabilities
Unfortunately, many of our favorite programs, including Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, and Oracle Java, are at risk of exploit kits that take advantage of their software vulnerabilities. To make matters worse, experts report that these vulnerabilities are serious and that accidentally clicking an ad with an infection is enough for hackers to access your entire computer. The good news is that you can mitigate the risk by always updating your software and operating system and by installing a system that prevents cyber threats.
Ransomware Is a Concern
Ransomware attacks occur more frequently than the average person realizes and affect companies of every size. These cyber attacks hold your important information hostage in exchange for a ransom, something small businesses typically do not have the resources to pay. You can mitigate the risk of ransomware attacks by ensuring all systems are up to date and have antivirus software. Additionally, small businesses should regularly backup all files, as this prevents the damage that a ransomware attack can cause. For more information, read our post “Ransomware Remains a Risk to Small Business in 2018.”
Leaks from the Internet of Things Put You at Risk
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing dramatically because users and corporations alike want real-time information that requires data collection. (Read What the “Internet of Things” Will Mean for Small Businesses for more information.) The issue arises from the fact that IoT devices do not always have the best security. For the Internet of Things to keep you and your small business’s information safe, every single device involved needs the ultimate security, including webcams, GPS, alarm systems, and anything else that may be connected to the internet. In most cases, an attacker will find your IoT devices with an automated program and then try to connect.
If you have not changed the default administrator credentials, they can do so in seconds. From there, they can control everything and collect your data. Mitigate this particular threat by taking the time to change your default password on any internet-connected and mobile device.
Cloud Storage Can Lead to Threats
Cloud storage adds a significant amount of convenience to any small business, and this type of storage has changed the way companies operate. Provided cloud storage includes regular updates and defense measures, it is relatively secure. Anytime your documents are stored in the cloud, however, there is a risk of hacking. Mitigate that risk by opting for a cloud storage provider with a strong reputation and numerous security measures, and take steps to protect your passwords.
There are Always Internal Threats
No matter how happy you think your employees are, there is always the risk of an internal threat. This is actually among the largest cybersecurity threats that small businesses face. You never know how an employee, current or past, actually feels. If they have access to important files, you are vulnerable.
Minimize the risk in a few ways, including identifying which accounts can significantly access or impact internal systems. Make sure that you terminate any of those accounts as soon as they are no longer being actively used or if a former employee has access to them. You can also implement tools that track activity on these accounts, which would let you respond to malicious activity quickly.
Employees Unfamiliar with Phishing and Attacks are also a Concern
Not all internal threats to your small business’s cyber security are intentional. Without the proper training on cybersecurity issues, your employees might become victims of a phishing scam. This is particularly true with the rise of spear phishing, which makes it seem as if the phishing emails came from a trusted person, like you, the CEO, or even a client. Experienced spear phishers might even track interactions to make the phishing email seem more realistic.
If an employee who is unaware of the potential scam provides information or clicks on a malicious link, your entire small business might be at risk. For example, ransomware can lock down the entire system unless you pay the ransom. Or a hacker could gain access to your systems and all the information in them.
To prevent this issue, start with up-to-date education for all employees on the risks. Remind them to never click on links or share information with someone before verifying that it came from a trusted source. Remind employees that this can be faked, so they must actually look at the email address instead of just the name that appears. Additionally, you should make secure backups of any critical data, so a potential ransomware attack does not decimate your data and crucial information.
During the training for employees against phishing emails, be sure to also cover password security and such things as two-factor authentication. You do not want any employee to have an easy-to-guess password or reuse the same password for multiple accounts since this makes it much easier for hackers to gain access. In addition, if you have a bring-your-own-device policy, you must have security steps in place before allowing employees to use a device.
While small businesses face a unique set of cybersecurity threats, there are steps to take to prevent most situations and protect your business. With proper training and strategies in place, any small business owner can mitigate the threat of phishing and other potential cyber attacks. When all else fails, cyber insurance can be there to protect your small business in the event of a breach. Discover Why All Small Businesses Need Cyber Insurance Coverage then contact us today to get started!