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Common Cybersecurity Threats to Small Businesses

Common Cybersecurity Threats to Small Businesses

We often hear concerns about business-specific cybersecurity threats. The reality is hackers are constantly finding new methods of exploiting company devices and networks for their own benefit. Understanding the common ways that criminals compromise company networks is essential for good cyber hygiene. Here are some common cybersecurity threats facing small businesses today.

1. Phishing

Phishing is one of the most widespread yet preventable cybersecurity threats. It occurs when cybercriminals prey on users by impersonating coworkers or authority figures. Criminals may pose as banking executives or someone within an organization to gain unauthorized access to data, accounts, or credentials.

Cybercriminals often use emails, voicemails, and text or social media messages to carry out phishing attacks. They typically attempt to persuade the recipient to follow an included malicious link. If the link is clicked, users may be asked to enter their credentials, thereby compromising their account. Sometimes these links may secretly install a form of malware on the user’s device. This malware can quickly infect an unprotected company network in a matter of minutes.


2. Malware

Malicious software, or malware, is increasingly common on the internet today. These programs often pose as innocent links or files, but they can quickly cause major problems. There are countless varieties of malware from worms, Trojans, and viruses to spyware, adware, and ransomware.

Ransomware is a constant threat to both large and small businesses. With these attacks, malware is generally installed onto a device by accident. This typically occurs when someone downloads a file or clicks a malicious email link. Ransomware can encrypt essential data and documents, often preventing companies from being able to operate altogether.

Once ransomware is installed, hackers generally ask for payment to release the encrypted data. However, simply making this payment doesn’t guarantee they’ll keep their word. Criminals rarely follow a code of ethics, which is why we never recommend paying any ransom in these cases. Ransomware attacks require extensive expertise to resolve and can shut down any business for an extended amount of time. It’s important to educate employees and establish effective cybersecurity protocols to prevent such an incident.


3. Denial-of-Service Attacks

A denial-of-service (DoS) attack occurs when criminals overload a website with fake traffic. This traffic may stem from one malicious device, but it can also be distributed through many machines via a botnet. Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are often difficult to stop once they begin.

DoS attacks may crash your website and keep legitimate customers from accessing it. Fortunately, the risk of a denial-of-service attack can be mitigated by establishing comprehensive security protocols. Cybersecurity assessments can ensure critical systems are structured to reduce the risk and fallout of a DoS attack. 


4. SQL Injections

Many organizations store data using Structured Query Language (SQL). While this is an efficient way of managing databases, it can also pose various problems. SQL injection occurs when cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in websites and web applications. It allows attackers to use a string of malicious code to access the contents of an organization’s private database. 

A successful SQL injection can expose a complete list of user information including names, credentials, and even banking information. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce the overall risk of an SQL injection attack. They often involve establishing storage procedures, input validation, and firewalls on websites and web applications. Having a cybersecurity professional audit your systems will show if this is a threat to your organization. 


5. Rootkit Attacks

A rootkit is a type of software that conceals the actions of cybercriminals. Sometimes it can also give hackers administrator access and remote control of a device or network. Rootkits often come with keyloggers and antivirus blockers that may steal credentials and wreak havoc on company systems. 

This is a major cybersecurity threat because it can allow criminals to avoid detection. Like most threats, avoiding rootkits requires the implementation of a strong cybersecurity posture. We recommend installing antivirus software, training employees to detect suspicious emails, and updating software regularly to avoid rootkits.


Combat Cybersecurity Threats

Small businesses face numerous cybersecurity threats. While some may be more malicious than others, they’re all worth avoiding whenever possible. Luckily, most phishing, malware, rootkits, and even DoS attacks can be mitigated by following simple cybersecurity best practices.

If you’re ready to assess your company’s cybersecurity posture, then we’d be happy to help. We conduct risk assessments and develop security to protect companies like yours from a wide variety of known and unknown threats. Simply give us a call or send us a message online to get started today.

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