Nowadays, practically all small businesses heavily rely on their online presence, whether they provide “Click & Collect” services or round-the-clock eCommerce. The drawback of the world’s continued transition into the comforts of the digital age is that hackers are becoming more proficient and successful at stealing our personal information.
This essay describes the key cybersecurity dangers that small businesses—including solopreneurs—face and provides suitable, simple, and affordable methods to protect yourself. Small firms are already operating on a tight budget and a limited amount of time, in contrast to corporations that have dedicated IT Departments.
Recognizing cyber hazards to small businesses
Cybercrime used to be a problem mainly faced by large organizations, but these days small businesses are increasingly being targeted too.
A cybersecurity threat amounts to any type of unlawful attempt to access private data, damage information, or disrupt digital operations. The reasons for these attacks are mainly for monetary gain, but sometimes you’re targeted just because Black Hat hackers can (for a blast).
As the digital world evolves, hackers are also targeting small businesses more to take advantage of:
- Data Entry Points — we’re now neck-deep in the Information Age. Data is being gathered, crunched, and leveraged on an unprecedented scale. It’s worth trillions annually. Data storage on personal devices makes it easier than ever before for hackers to gain an entry point into lucrative networks. You could just be an easy stepping stone.
- The Internet of Things (IoT) — with many different types of smart devices now being interconnected, a breach in your security can give criminals access to a broader range of data to sell on the black market.
Now let’s look at the common cybersecurity threats you need to know about.
Everyone is now aware of the threat posed by malware in the online world. When you unintentionally open a gateway for malicious software, like by clicking on a dubious link or attachment, your computers become infected. Your personal information can be stolen by malicious software or spyware. Educate yourself on the distinctions between Trojan horses, worms, and viruses.
Another issue that is getting worse is social engineering, which deceives you into giving criminals what they want. Examples include phony websites that appear legitimate or emails that appear to be from a reputable source. This is related to phishing scams, in which you are tricked into giving up information like your credit card number.
Even a seemingly harmless feature like a search box on your website can be used to inject malicious malware. If your website is hosted on a server that employs Structured Query Language (SQL), a widely used online development tool, you are exposed to this SQL injection attack.
Eavesdropping on data
This illegal action, known as Man in the Middle (MITM), takes place when hackers are able to sneak between two endpoints and intercept the data transfer. This enables them to filter the information, install malicious software, and take whatever they want. Use of an unsecure WiFi network is the main cause of it.
Taking Down Your Website
Consider that you have been working nonstop to prepare for your largest sale of the year. Your website falls down the day it launches. That’s awful! When you experience a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, this is what happens.
DDoS incidents can occur for a variety of reasons. But ultimately, what happens is that a cybercriminal floods your website with requests, preventing it from responding to users who try to access it. Botnets, an army of linked devices with malware on them, are to blame for this “flood.”
since they can be found anywhere in the world.
Small businesses are not as prone to experience a DDoS attack as are larger organizations, but it may and does happen to any kind of business. It’s also important to take seriously because small businesses are most likely to suffer severe financial loss if a significant sales opportunity is lost due to a downed website.
Penalties & Costs for Data Breach
Government regulators all over the world are getting stricter about fining companies that don’t take adequate precautions to protect their customers’ data. High-profile businesses have recently paid out millions for data breaches. Even while it won’t apply to small firms, a couple of thousand dollars in penalty charges will hurt just as much if you’re on a tight budget.
Companies in the US must abide by each state’s specific data breach regulations. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the authority to look into any business that violates its privacy policies or doesn’t have adequate security measures in place to secure client data. Since there are numerous laws, receiving a fine could result in a difficult legal nightmare.
The General Data Protection Regulation is adhered to by the EU and the UK (GDPR). The GDPR can be even harsher when it comes to data privacy, yet being more streamlined than US law.
If your company experiences a data or network breach, you will incur additional charges in addition to penalty fines. These costs include hiring experts to investigate the breach, paying legal fees to fight the penalties and defend against customer damage claims, alerting customers (which can increase your email service bills), and earning back their confidence.
Ways to Protect against cyber threats
1. Train your staff
One of the most common ways cyber criminals get access to your data is through your employees. They’ll send fraudulent
emails impersonating someone in your organisation and will either ask for personal details or for access to certain
files. Links often seem legitimate to an untrained eye and it’s easy to fall into the trap. This is why employee
awareness is vital.
One of the most efficient ways to protect against cyber attacks and all types of data breaches is to train your employees
on cyber attack prevention and inform them of current cyber attacks.
2. Keep your software and systems fully up to date
Often cyber attacks happen because your systems or software aren’t fully up to date, leaving weaknesses. Hackers exploit
these weaknesses so cybercriminals exploit these weaknesses to gain access to your network. Once they are in – it’s
often too late to take preventative action.
To counteract this, it’s smart to invest in a patch management
system that will manage all software and system updates, keeping your system resilient and up to date.
Leaf offer patch management as part of their managed security
3. Ensure Endpoint Protection
Endpoint protection protects networks that are remotely bridged to devices. Mobile devices, tablets and laptops that are
connected to corporate networks give access paths to security threats. These paths need protected with specific endpoint
4. Install a Firewall
There are so many different types of sophisticated data breaches and new ones surface every day and even make comebacks.
Putting your network behind a firewall is one of the most effective ways to defend yourself from any cyber attack. A
firewall system will block any brute force attacks made on your network and/or systems before it can do any damage,
something we can help you with.
5. Backup your data
In the event of a disaster (often a cyber attack) you must have your data backed up to avoid serious downtime, loss of
data and serious financial loss.
6. Control access to your systems
Believe it or not, one of the attacks that you can receive on your systems can be physical, having control over who can
access your network is really really important. Somebody can simply walk into your office or enterprise and plug in a
USB key containing infected files into one of your computers allowing them access to your entire network or infect it.
It’s essential to control who has access to your computers. Having a perimeter security system installed is a very good
way to stop cybercrime as much as break ins!
7. Wifi Security
Who doesn’t have a wifi enabled device in 2020? And that’s exactly the danger, any device can get infected by connecting
to a network, if this infected device then connects to your business network your entire system is at serious risk.
Securing your wifi networks and hiding them is one of the safest things you can do for you systems. With developing more
and more everyday there’s thousands of devices that can connect to your network and compromise you.
8. Employee personal accounts
Every employee needs their own login for every application and program. Several users connecting under the same
credentials can put your business at risk.
Having separate logins for each staff member will help you reduce the number of attack fronts. Users only log in once
each day and will only use their own set of logins. Greater security isn’t the only benefit, you’ll also get improved
9. Access Management
One of the risks as a business owner and having employees is them installing software on business owned devices that
could compromise your systems.
Having managed admin rights and blocking your staff installing or even accessing certain data on your network is
beneficial to your security. It’s your business, protect it!
Having the same password setup for everything can be dangerous. Once a hacker figures out your password, they now have
access to everything in your system and any application you use.
Having different passwords setup for every application you use is a real benefit to your security, and changing them often will maintain a high level of protection against external and internal threats.