Before computers, the internet, and websites were a thing, business owners were worried about more visible threats to their company, such as storms and flooding, break-ins, and other types of property loss. But the introduction of computer technology and other digital innovations to the workplace gave way to a new kind of challenge for businesses: cybersecurity threats.
Cyberattacks that led to data breaches, such as that of Equifax and Marriott-Starwood, made global headlines in recent years. These incidents led to important personal data from millions of people being compromised, highlighting the impact of weak cybersecurity to businesses and their customers.
Are Small Businesses at Risk of Cyberattacks?
If huge businesses with robust cybersecurity measures in place can be attacked by cybercriminals, what about small businesses? There’s a common misconception among small enterprises that they are an unlikely target of cyberattacks. With this attitude and less awareness of the threats, cybersecurity defenses remain lax, making small businesses an easy target for cybercriminals.
That is why protecting your business from cyber threats is essential; whatever the size of your business. The first step is identifying potential threats. Below are five of the most common threats to a business’ cybersecurity.
1. Phishing Attacks
Phishing happens when a cybercriminal poses as someone the victim trusts and tricks them into opening a malicious link, usually in the form of an e-mail, which leads to the installation of malware. The attacker then uses the malware to either steal private information or attack a company’s entire security system.
Despite phishing techniques being obvious, many still fall for it. According to Kaspersky Lab, their anti-phishing system was triggered more than 246 million times in 2017.
2. Malware Attacks
Opening spam e-mails, connecting to infected devices, and downloading something from unsecured websites—these can all lead to the unintentional installation of malware on devices used at work. When malware is installed in a device, hackers gain access to networks to steal or destroy data on a device.
For small businesses, a malware attack can be extremely damaging. When hackers cripple a device, repairs or replacements are costly. What’s more, a malware attack can open the back door to a business’ network, compromising customer and employee data.
3. Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts a user’s data, from files to user accounts, so that they cannot be used or accessed. Then, the attacker who launched the ransomware forces the victim to pay a ransom to unlock the data.
In 2017, a Google study found that ransomware victims paid a total of $25 million in ransom to hackers over two years. This shows that ransomware is a profitable method of attack, and popular among cybercriminals.
The Chink in Your Armor
Most forms of cyberattack share one commonality: the hackers gained access to the system because of human error. Your employees are often the weakest link in your cybersecurity.
This is why educating employees on proper cybersecurity measures is essential to reduce the vulnerability of your company. When employees understand the risk of cyber threats, they learn to recognize the signs of a cyberattack. With a smaller business, the resources may not be available for sophisticated cyber protection, so everyone shares a responsibility to be vigilant.