Cyberattacks are becoming more severe and sophisticated every year. Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are being targeted just like large enterprises. 43% of breach victims from the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Report were small businesses. SMBs are often more vulnerable to attacks due to fewer resources devoted to cybersecurity. The first step in preparedness is understanding the most common cyber threats faced by small businesses. After all, knowledge is power.
Implied by its name, Malware means malicious software. Malware programs are designed to download onto a device without the user’s knowledge to cause severe damage or data breaches. This software is often downloaded via a suspicious email attachment or disguised as a downloadable free tool or flash update.
Once downloaded, the Malware can provide a hacker remote access to your device to steal your personal information and passwords. It is common in SMBs for Malware tospread to other machines on your network due to less restrictive device management techniques, wreaking even more havoc.
Web-based attacks are another common threat to SMBs as they use an internet browser and a business’s website as an attack launchpad to start criminal acts, such as stealing customer information or compromising the website to infect visitors.
Web applications are also incredibly accessible to hackers. Apps are a rewarding attack target because they store personal and valuable data such as credit card numbers, personally identifiable information (PII), and financial information. Hackers make it their business to seek out weaknesses so that this information can be stolen or rerouted for their ultimate gain.
This popularized attack involves hackers forcing multiple systems (generally infected with Malware) to send network communication requests to the targeted web server. The receiving server overloads due to the large increase in traffic and either crashes or slows the server enough, so regular web visitors cannot establish a connection between their system and the hacked server.
With DDoS attacks, the targeted business’s customers cannot access the website, preventing them from transacting with the brand. In turn, the company loses valuable opportunities, money, and productivity.
The evolved phishing technique is a direct attack on an organization’s people by utilizing masqueraded emails as the weapon. These emails typically include requests for something, such as a request from their bank or a note from a company executive, and a link to follow or download an attachment.
These types of attacks look like they’re coming from a brand or trusted entity the recipient is familiar with. The key is to be on the lookout for the smallest details that seem “off” within the email. Phishing attacks used to be more programmatic and bulk processed making them easy to identify. They are now much more sophisticated, with hackers using social media and other data sources to impersonate high-ranking company officials using very detailed information.
Unpatched software vulnerabilities are one of the most accessible areas to secure, yet SMBs frequently neglect them. For example, browser add-in programs like Adobe Flash and Java, and programs like Microsoft Excel and Word all require regular updates. When new security patches release for applications, SMBs and their teams must run those updates as soon as possible. Moreover, unpatched hardware can allow hackers direct access to your network. Updating Routers and Access Points is essential in making sure your business is protected.
With the increasing number of devices on a company network, proper patch management and procedures are critical. When update notification windows pop up on your systems, please don’t ignore them.
Organizations of all sizes – including SMBs – must understand that cyber attacks are an inevitability in today’s world. Today’s cyber criminals enjoy significant advantages over unprepared SMBs. And the first step is educating yourself and your workforce on these vulnerabilities and threats most commonly targeted towards you.
Follow along in this series, where we’ll dive deeper into each of these five types of cyberattacks, real-world examples, how to validate your security posture against cyberattacks, and how to best protect your organization.