The acceleration of modern technology is nothing short of amazing, even though it comes bundled with new cybersecurity threats. It’s hardly a secret that the internet has become a playground for skilled individuals with malicious intent.
Along with the growing sophistication of technology, cybersecurity threats have also become more widespread and advanced. With the rise in the number of businesses that use the internet, more organizations are falling victim to cyber-attacks. Small businesses, in particular, are typically far more vulnerable.
According to CNBC, 43% of cyberattacks are against small businesses and only 14% of them are adequately prepared. The worst news is that many of them end up going out of business due to the financial repercussions. To give some idea of scale, a single cyberattack can cost businesses an average of $200,000.
Attacks these days are far more sophisticated. If businesses aren’t sufficiently protected, the consequences are not only expensive but will also tarnish the organization’s reputation.
Which Cybersecurity Threats Are Putting Businesses at Higher Risk?
There are many risk factors that business owners may not be aware of, especially when they’re just beginning to address cybersecurity.
However, the biggest vulnerability typically lies in the organization’s lack of a robust security system and employees that aren’t educated about cybersecurity.
Unfortunately, many small businesses tend to underestimate their need for cybersecurity measures. But regardless of an organization’s size, there should at least be a reliable cybersecurity program in place. This can be in the form of security software programs or tangible cybersecurity products that can be obtained from a hardware security module provider.
The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats to Small Businesses
Cybersecurity threats vary in terms of the technique used in attacks. These attacks target either the system user or the system itself by exploiting vulnerabilities.
It’s important to note that securing your business against cyber threats requires strengthening not only your network infrastructure but also your end-point users. This should include your employees and even your customers.
The list below provides an overview of common threats to cybersecurity. All are expected to continue affecting vulnerable businesses, regardless of size.
- Phishing: Perhaps the most common threat, phishing continues to be prevalent today. Its methods are becoming more creative to lure unknowing online users. Often sent as an email or a web form, phishing tricks targets into either clicking on malware links or sending sensitive data. Avoiding phishing scams can be difficult and requires proper user education.
- Social Engineering: Used with phishing as a goal, social engineering employs methods that make phishing materials look legitimate. Content often incites a sense of urgency so targets are prompted to take actions quickly without thinking. For example, text or email messages that warn you of a breach in your account and ask you to click on a link to fix the problem. Just like phishing scams, social engineering tactics are carefully planned. They can only be avoided by sufficient training.
- Insider Threat: These threats involve endpoint security vulnerabilities within an organization. The most common cause is a lack of awareness among employees. When staff members don’t know any better, they may unknowingly download malware into an organization’s system or even cause data breach incidents.
- Identity Theft: This is often the end result of data breaches and successful phishing attacks. Stolen personal information is used for fraudulent activities. This is especially true when the breach involves financial information such as credit card details.
- Malvertising: Malicious advertising materials often lurk in browsers and social media. Once a user clicks an ad, they may be prompted to download malware or be directed to malicious websites or servers. Spotting this type of cyber threat is often a challenge. It’s important for all users to be extremely careful when clicking on ads.
- Cloud Attacks: There are many threats to cloud servers as they’re directly accessible via the public internet. Cloud attacks often result in server breaches that compromise data on a larger scale. They’re also often initiated by organized cybercrime groups. Although cloud attacks usually target larger enterprises, small businesses that use shared cloud servers are more vulnerable. This is especially true when there are no security protocols employed on the client’s end.
- Deep Fakes: An emerging threat typically used for fraud, deep fakes make it possible to flawlessly superimpose faces on another body. Criminals use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create convincing videos that can be used maliciously. AI-enabled software can also be used to create fake audios that resemble another person’s voice.
- Zero-Day Exploits: These are direct attacks on system vulnerabilities that most targets are not even aware of. These vulnerable points are often spotted by hackers who are looking for organizations with security weaknesses they can exploit. Fortunately, these vulnerabilities can also be identified by developers or ethical hackers. Once spotted, they can be patched up before an attack takes place.
- IoT Attacks: This scheme uses bots to attack internet-enabled devices. These attacks often target web and mobile applications and exploit weak authentication methods. This is especially prevalent in apps that lack encryption such as SMS messages.
What Business Owners Can Do
Although it’s ideal to establish a solid security system right from the start, it’s never too late for business owners to consider beefing up cybersecurity. If you’re the owner of a web-based business, you can start by consulting cybersecurity experts and professionals.
It would also pay to invest in a robust security system that can protect your organization against the most common cybersecurity threats. Your cybersecurity program should also provide analytic data. Analytics can help you gather useful information that will help you improve your security protocols where needed.
Most importantly, educate, train, and update your workforce regularly about the most important cybersecurity practices and how they should respond to potential threats. It’s also ideal to enforce security protocols in the workplace and encourage accountability among every worker. Effective cybersecurity involves both the system and its users. When one is weaker, it can compromise the other, and the rest of your organization.