Common Cybersecurity Threats for Small Businesses

NCSAM serves as a reminder that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and everyone has a role to play in creating a safer and more secure online environment. Which is why this blog discusses the common cybersecurity threats small businesses suffer from as well tips for businesses to help boost their online security.

Common Cybersecurity Threats for Small Businesses

Cybersecurity Awareness Month:

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), an annual campaign dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. This month-long initiative encourages individuals and businesses to learn about cybersecurity risks, adopt safe online practices, and enhance their overall digital security. The campaign also encourages individuals to educate themselves about prevalent cybersecurity threats such as phishing scams and malware attacks. NCSAM serves as a reminder that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and everyone has a role to play in creating a safer and more secure online environment. Which is why this blog discusses the common cybersecurity threats small businesses suffer from as well tips for businesses to help boost their online security.

Common cybersecurity threats small businesses suffer from:

Phishing:

Phishing is a form of cyber attack that occurs when an attacker sends you an email in order to gain money, such as banking credentials or passwords. Cybercriminals send deceptive emails, messages, or websites that appear legitimate in order to trick your employees into revealing sensitive information like passwords or financial details. These emails create a sense of urgency and stress, which can oftentimes make the victims not want to read the email in its entirety to sort the ‘problem’ out straight away.

It is essential for employees to understand how to identify a phishing email and what steps they can take if they receive one. The most important thing to pay attention to is the sender's email address. This is because scammers will be unable to utilise the sender’s actual email to send the email. Another common technique used by scammers is ‘spoofing’. Email Spoofing is a form of impersonation in which an email is sent with a forged email address. This is done to trick the recipient into thinking the email originated from someone that they know or trust instead of the actual source. To learn how to spot spoofing emails, click the link here.

Malware:

Malware attacks are a major type of cyber threat which involves secretly installing harmful software on someone’s device, in order for the cyber criminal to gain entry access to all the data stored on the device. Malware is a general term for various types of malicious software, such as viruses, trojans, and spyware which can infect a business's computer systems, steal sensitive business data and disrupt operations by causing system crashes and network outages. This significantly harms business productivity as well as puts your business at financial and legal risk. Moreover, malware can also be used as an entry point for other cyberattacks such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which can completely shut down your business.

One of the main ways malware enters your device, is by clicking on a suspicious link. A good way to stay protected against malware is to stay vigilant and avoid clicking on links you’re not sure of, especially if it’s from an email that entered your inbox. Investing in a robust anti-virus system can help combat malware that has entered your device. The anti-virus should constantly be running in the background in order to fix known vulnerabilities, as soon as they’re detected.

Ransomware:

Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their computer system. It does this by encrypting the data, and then demanding a ransom for its release.

Ransomware is most often used to attack businesses, as they have large amounts of sensitive information. Small businesses can be particularly vulnerable to ransomware attacks because they often do not have the resources to protect themselves. Paying the ransom doesn't guarantee data recovery, and it can lead to downtime, data loss, and harm to a company's reputation.

To protect your business against ransomware, you should implement strong cybersecurity practices and regularly backup your data in multiple locations. Having a plan in case of a ransomware attack is also crucial.

Password attacks:

Businesses rely heavily on passwords. Using weak or easy-to-guess passwords can make your business an easy target to cyberattacks such as brute force attacks or unauthorised access. These attacks involve trying lots of different password combinations until they find the right one. Hackers have powerful tools like Aircrack and Hashcat to help them do this.

Once a cybercriminal gets access to your accounts, they can then potentially steal your sensitive data and also close down your important business accounts, which can be very damaging to your business. To protect your business, it's crucial to use strong, hard-to-guess passwords. These passwords should be long and include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. A password manager is a highly secure tool designed to store all your business passwords in one location and generate string and unique passwords. At Edmondson’s IT Services, we offer LastPass as a password management solution for businesses to ensure your complex passwords are stored securely in one digital vault. It also gives your business the opportunity to create complex passwords to help boost the safety of your business.

Social Engineering:

Social engineering is a common form of cyber threat where cybercriminals will use tactics to manipulate employees into handing over sensitive information or doing actions that compromise your business security. From sending fake emails that look legitimate, to pretending to be someone they’re not, like a co-worker, these tactics are extremely dangerous as they rely on tricking people rather than exploiting technical flaws. And cybercriminals are only getting smarter with the techniques they use.

The main way to protect your business against social engineering, is to educate your employees about the most recent tactics, train them to stay aware, and always keep up to date with the recent scams that are going around.

DDoS:

A Denial-of-Service Attack is a type of cyber-attack used to target systems, servers, or network to overload the servers, causing entire IT infrastructures to shut down. DDoS attacks flood a website or network with traffic, in order to overwhelm or shut down the computer systems, servers, or network. Small businesses can suffer heavily as a result of one of these attacks, and can lead to them not being able to operate for several hours, days, and even weeks. This leads to financial loss as well as a damaged reputation. Recovering from such an attack can be time-consuming and costly.

Partnering up with a IT Support Provider, or Cybersecurity experts, using DDoS protection tools, as well as having a disaster recovery plan in place are just some of the ways you can defend against DDoS attacks.

Tips for businesses to boost their security:

1.VPN: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can help encrypt your IP address, shielding you from hackers who are on the same network as you. This is a perfect solution for those who tend to work in local cafes or remote workspaces.

2. Email security: Investing in a secure email platform is an excellent tool for preventing data loss. According to research, the most common cause of data leaks when working from home is sending emails to the wrong person.

3. Action Fraud: Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting facility, where you can report fraud and discuss what happened.

4. Education: Employees are often the most vulnerable link in your company's cyber security and data privacy plan. The best way to protect them is to teach them how to spot and eliminate potential threats, like suspicious emails, avenues for phishing attacks, poor encryptions, suspicious links and social networking dangers. In addition to training your employees on how to protect themselves from cyber threats, you must also teach them how to protect your company's data against breaches or leaks.

5. Disaster recovery: You can never be too prepared, no matter how strong your backup strategy is. There are always unforeseen circumstances that can occur at any time. A disaster recovery plan will provide you with an additional layer of security while allowing you to get your business back up and running in no time. These plans are intended to provide insurancefor your company while allowing you to focus on your company and its goals.

6. Two-factor authentication: A quick and easy security measure that adds a second layer of protection in addition to your password is by implementing two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA is implemented to protect both a user’s credentials as well as the resources that they can access. 2FA makes it harder for attackers to gain access to a person’s devices or online accounts because even if they know your password, they still have to pass the authentication check.

7. Data Backup: Regular data backups are a crucial component of any small business's cybersecurity strategy. Implementing a robust backup system ensures that in the event of a ransomware attack, critical data can be recovered without paying the ransom.

8. Network Security: Securing your network is a critical step in protecting your small business from cyber threats. Firewalls act as the first line of defence, monitoring and controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic. They block unauthorized access attempts, preventing malicious actors from infiltrating your network. Encryption adds an extra layer of protection to your network by transforming sensitive data into unreadable text. This ensures that even if the data is intercepted during transmission, it remains secure and unintelligible to unauthorized individuals.

9. Regular software updates: Keep all software and operating systems up to date. This helps to avoid hackers exploiting known vulnerabilities in outdated software. By ensuring you’ve updated all your systems and software, you’ll receive the latest security updates to help protect your business.

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