If you’re one of the millions of Americans who own a small business, you’ll know just how susceptible it can be to cyber-attacks.
An estimated 43 percent of cyber attacks are targeted towards small businesses, but it’s not just phishing scams that you have to be concerned about.
What are the most common types of cyber-attacks that are directed at small businesses?
While email attacks like phishing scams are the most popular, there are a number of ways that hackers and bots can infiltrate your systems. Viruses, malware, ransomware, and password attacks all pose serious threats and can be devastating for a business.
The best thing you can do as a small business owner is to be aware of the potential threats, so we’ve compiled this comprehensive list of the most common types of cyber attacks that you face.
Education is the key to prevention so knowing what threats are out there will put you one step ahead of the attackers and help you to protect your business from them the best you can.
This is considered the most common type of cyber attack facing small businesses and it’s one that can be the most detrimental.
A phishing scam usually targets employees who are responsible for financial responsibilities and tries to get them to open links or emails which then allows the hacker access to their information and your business network.
According to statistics from 2014, these email campaigns target up to 43 percent of businesses and many of them aren’t aware it’s happening. This has been a steady increase since 2011 with more businesses being targeted each year.
#2: USB Sticks
Sometimes the cyber threat doesn’t come from the internet, but rather the use of a physical USB stick or another plug-in device.
Recent attacks have come from USB sticks that are left somewhere public in the hopes that an employee will plug them into their computer and try to open the files.
Doing so gives the hacker full access to your computer and associated network, with experts revealing that even anti-virus software would not be able to block this type of attack.
Never put an unknown device into your computer and teach your employees to do the same.
This is a huge threat for companies who operate e-commerce stores but it’s possible with any business with an online presence.
Malware is a type of software that’s found all over the internet and if it’s installed on your computer it has the ability to access all of your information as soon as you’ve downloaded it.
A good antivirus program will be able to protect from a lot of these threats, but you also need to be aware of what you’re installing and updating, with many malware files hiding in, pretend updates.
According to a 2018 report, the most malicious malware threats that year came in the form of Microsoft Office files which many people in business open without thought, making them a serious danger.
Ransomware is a specific type of malware and one that affects small businesses more regularly than you might think.
This type of cyber attack is where a threat is involved that the hacker will leak the company’s information unless a ransom is paid, and for small businesses, it can be devastating.
One report showed that a ransomware attack can 10 times more costly to a business than the actual ransom they are asking for, costing around $48,000 per attack compared to the average $4,300 that are requested as payment.
The main issue is that small business owner assume they would have nothing of value for a ransomware culprit to ask for, and so they become lax with protecting their systems.
#5: Human Error
We often think of cyber attacks as coming from some unknown assailant acting online, but according to statistics, human error leads to many security breaches.
A massive 48 percent of cybersecurity breaches happen because employees have made a simple error or there’s an issue with the system that your business runs on, according to a 2016 report by Verizon.
The best way to prevent against this is by educating your employees on the importance of cybersecurity, but also ensuring you have a dedicated security suite installed on all of your systems.
#6: Password Attacks
Gaining access to your company’s data doesn’t always require some elaborate plan, with many hackers being able to get the information they need just by attacking your passwords.
Hackers might use a sophisticated computer program that can attempt multiple passwords or keylogging programs that show them exactly what’s being typed.
The best defense against this is a dedicated security suite, but employees also need to be educated on password security and the impact it has on the business.
A longer and more complex password is needed, as well as only ever using one password for each of their online accounts.
#7: Denial Of Service Attack
One of the newer forms of cyberattacks that businesses have experienced is a DoS attack or denial of service.
These work by piling onto a website with a huge amount of web traffic that’s coming from different places, with the aim of overwhelming the system and making it inaccessible.
For a small business, this can have a serious impact as customers won’t be able to access your services and for larger businesses, these attacks can cost an estimated $40,000 per hour they are in effect.
The most common breach that leads to a DoS attack comes from unsecured devices like webcams and smart technology, so make sure endpoint protection is in place on all linked devices and that you’re regularly performing security updates.
#8: Key Logger Attack
These programs give hackers access to everything that’s being typed on your computer or device, and if this is happening to one of your employees then your entire business could be at serious risk.
A key logger program can get information login details and passwords, or other sensitive information being written, and all it takes is one computer to be infected.
To prevent keylogging, a multi-factor authentication process is usually helpful at slowing them down.
Owning a small business is a huge responsibility, and in this modern age, one of the biggest responsibilities it comes with is cybersecurity.
These are some common questions from small business owners about staying safe to give you an understanding of why it’s so important.
How Can A Business Prevent From Cyber Attacks?
There are a number of steps you can take to protect your small business from cyberattacks, with the two most important being education of employees and installing a cybersecurity suite to protect the network and devices linked to it.
Password security, multi-factor authentication, data encryption, and access controls are other methods of keeping your business safe from online threats.
How Do Companies Protect Customer’s Data?
If your small business deals with customer’s and employee’s sensitive data you’ll need to ensure it’s protected.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the basic steps a company should follow is only storing relevant data, keeping it securely locked down, getting rid of any information they don’t need to store, and planning ahead to prevent future attacks.