What Are The Cyber Security Risks For Small Businesses?

What Are The Cyber Security Risks For Small Businesses?

Cyber-criminals are constantly scaling up their efforts and have discovered that small businesses are easy pickings for stealing data. Small businesses are easier to hack than big corporations and they’re often connected to larger supply chains. Fewer cyber security tools and resources combined with a lack of robust security infrastructure and little or no prevention training often amount to a small business being targeted and a subsequent data breach. 

What Should You Look Out For? 

Understanding the nature of the threats your small business is exposed to is the first step towards improving your cybersecurity. These are the cybersecurity threats small businesses need to be aware of: 

•    Social Engineering
This is a common method of extracting credentials. Hackers have been known to create a crisis for a small business, such as cutting the phone lines and then turning up at the office to ‘save the day’ as a uniformed BT engineer shortly after. By doing this, they are getting potentially unlimited access to your business network.

Alternatively, a hacker might ring your office and speak to one member of staff to get some seemingly harmless information. They then ring back on another line and speak to someone else using that information to convince the person that they’re legitimate. 

•    Ransomware
Ransomware is a type of software that blocks access to a computer system or encrypts users’ files. This is the most common type of cyber-attack. It is used by hackers to demand money to get their files back. For a bigger company, repelling a ransomware attack is an option. But for a small business, the only real option may be to pay the money, which can be fatal. 

•    Phishing Attacks 
Fake emails that purport to be from legitimate corporations such as banks are often used by hackers to exploit company data. This data can be reached by one employee clicking a seemingly normal link within the email. Once a link is clicked, attackers can access the network and all the data stored on it, which includes sensitive information such as user IDs and passwords.

•    Malware
Malware attaches itself to adverts and unreliable downloads. It injects viruses into your computer, which in turn puts your data at risk.
 

•    Dropping USB drives
This sounds far-fetched but many fall for it. Hackers drop a spyware infected USB drive in a company car park. If an unsuspecting employee picks it up and installs it into their computer, the hacker gains an access point to exploit the company.
 

•    Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
BYOD offers flexibility and cost savings for small businesses. However, when employees bring their own devices and connect them to the network, they expose the network to any virus or malware on their device. Ensuring all connected devices have proper anti-virus and firewall installation is a necessity and it is advisable that strict BYOD policies are in place within your business. 
 

How To Prevent Cyber-Attacks

As technology is constantly developing, you may not be able to prevent an attack, but there are other steps you can take to help ensure you are better able to deal with one and get back to business. These include: 

1.    Having A Cyber Strategy
The most dangerous threat for your business is a lack of awareness. 

It is much more advisable to take preventative measures against hackers rather than dealing with expensive and time-consuming fallout later, which can potentially ruin your small business. Your business should have a clear cyber security strategy considering the risks you face and how to manage them. This could include how you store collected personal data and your reaction as a business if it is compromised. 

As a business owner, you need to understand that it is impossible to ward off threats without a proper strategy.

2.    Training And Vigilance
Awareness always starts with education; this is because with knowledge you can take action. 

Don’t underestimate human error. Each employee should have training about how to identify threats hidden in emails and when they install software onto a device. Password management and phone and email training regarding information sharing are a great place to start. 

Even knowing and sharing top tips would be insightful for many. Namely, legitimate institutions that offer payment options will always have HTTPS websites equipped with SSL protection.

3.    Keep Your Tech Up To Date
Thankfully, there are many processes and prevention technologies that businesses can use to provide higher-level protection. Ensure that your software is updated with the latest patches and that all applications, email programs and browsers are covered. 

Installing internet security programs such as antivirus software helps protect your computers from hackers, viruses and other malicious software. You should also always download the latest software updates. It may be inconvenient, but they contain vital security upgrades. Additionally, using a two-way authentication method that doesn’t just rely on passwords alone or using Biometric authentication is an effective solution to prevent password hacking.  

Final Thoughts
Cybersecurity is so important and should not be overlooked by a small business. Adding a comprehensive cyber security strategy to support your business and employees is a great step to take.

If you would like help with creating your business plan, get in touch with us. Contact us online using the form on the right or call 01604 420 420.

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