Small Business Cyber Security – Everything You Need to Know
Updated: Jun 22
No individual, company, or government entity is immune to the threat of cyberattacks. At no time has this been clearer than the December 2020 Russian cyberattack on the U.S. government and various security contractors that serve it. Still, a remarkable number of small business owners have highly vulnerable systems. While your small business may not be the target of Russian intelligence agencies, there are legions of foreign and domestic cybercriminals who seek vulnerabilities in small businesses’ security systems. If you are concerned about your business’s cybersecurity, you should read on to find out the types of attacks you may be vulnerable to and how you can prevent a breach.
The Impact of Cyber Attacks on Businesses
The number of successful cyberattacks in U.S. businesses is spiraling out of control. By the end of the third quarter of 2021, there had been 1291 reported breaches. Comparatively, there were 1108 reported breaches in 2020. In the third quarter of 2021, there were 160 million data compromise victims compared to 121 million in the first and second quarters combined. These are daunting numbers that should give any business owner pause.
Types of Cyber Attacks
The following are some of the most common types of cyberattacks on businesses and a brief explanation of how each one works.
Ransomware is a specific type of malware, which we will discuss in the next section, that prevents authorized users from accessing their system unless they make a payment to regain access. If your system is infected with ransomware, the hacker can block full or partial access to your data. In 2020, ransomware was responsible for $20 billion in losses globally.
The term malware is short for “malicious software.” It refers to any harmful program or code. Various subsets of malware include:
With malware, the objective may or may not be to profit from the breach. Other objectives could include illegal data mining, discrediting the company by exposing the breach publicly, disrupting operations, or eroding confidence in the data-holder.
Malware as a Service (MaaS)
An unfortunate play on the industry term “software as a service,” MaaS refers to cybercriminals for hire. Third parties who wish to harm a company or entity may hire an illegal MaaS service to launch an attack on their systems.
Denial of Service (DoS)
A denial of service attack is designed to tie up the victim’s system so legitimate users cannot access their services. For example, if an event planner offers a limited number of tickets to an event, a DoS attack may aim to reserve as many of those spots as possible to prevent legitimate attendees from being able to secure a place. DoS attacks gained some notoriety during the 2016 and 2020 political seasons as hackers attempted to flood campaign rallies with false attendees.
Phishing attacks have become increasingly sophisticated as individuals and companies have become increasingly aware of these types of attacks. A phishing attack uses an email, social media account, text message, etc., to solicit sensitive information, such as sign-ins and passwords. Because many people use the same or similar sign-ins and passwords across multiple accounts, hackers can use this for personal accounts to gain access to business systems.
This is a relatively new type of cybercrime where the hacker uses the victim’s system to unknowingly mine cryptocurrency. With the ubiquity of cryptocurrencies, the profitability of this type of hack has increased.
Abbreviated as XXS, cross-site scripting introduces malware to a legitimate site. This particular type of code allows the cybercriminal to access data within the site.
This is a program that records every keystroke entered into a computer or system. Keyloggers aren’t necessarily illegal, but cybercriminals often use them without the knowledge of the system owner.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the types of cyberattacks that focus on businesses in the U.S. For a more involved discussion of the types of attacks that your company may be vulnerable to, contact a representative at Flagler Technical and schedule a consultation.
How to Prevent Cyber Attacks
There are a number of measures you and your employees can take to better secure your business against cyberattacks. Ultimately, you will want to consider hiring Managed Security Service Provider for comprehensive security. In the meantime, consider these simple but essential tips for hardening your cyber defenses.
Set Strong Password Protocols
If a hacker can access your system via an authorized account, the system “believes” that they’re a legitimate user. Make your user’s accounts more difficult to hack by:
Requiring passwords to consist of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
Don’t allow users to reset their password with a previously used password.
Limit the number of failed attempts before a user has to reset their password to prevent brute force attacks from being successful.
Use two-tier authentication.
Require users to reset their passwords periodically.
Conduct Cybersecurity Training for Employees
Employees are an enormous liability when it comes to cybersecurity. Employees should receive standardized training during orientation and periodic updates. Training topics should include:
A review of the company’s cybersecurity policy.
How to recognize common cyberattacks (i.e., phishing, trojan horses, etc.).
A review of the hardware can be used to access the companies systems.
Penalties for violating the company’s policies.
Make Software Updates Mandatory
Most people never read the release notes for software updates, but they often contain security patches for viral updates. Hackers will frequently seek victims who haven’t updated their software. In 2017, a cybersecurity firm reported 60% of cyberattacks could have been prevented with patches that had been around for ten years. 90% of the attacks were from vulnerabilities that had been discovered three years prior. Updating all systems is crucial to minimizing threats.
Secure Your Information
Establish firewalls and encryption protocols to protect your networks and data. Hide your wifi networks and use strong passwords to protect against hacks. Automatically back up your data and store the backup separately. If you do have a cyberattack, you won’t lose access to your own data.
Why Your Business Needs an MSSP
In a CNBC | Momentive Q3 Small Business Survey taken in August 2021, 56% of small business owners claimed that they did not believe that they would be the victim of a cyberattack within the next year. 59% believe they could quickly resolve a cyberattack if one occurred. Conversely, only 28% of the respondents claimed to have a contingency plan for a cyberattack in place. As data security services experts, we believe that the results of this survey are optimistic and expose a dangerous vulnerability in the nation’s awareness of cybercrime that hackers are more than willing to exploit. As more businesses invest in their cybersecurity, the remaining companies are even more vulnerable to attacks.
A Managed Security Service Provider can provide software, hardware, services, and support for your business, including:
Isolated data recovery
Establishing security protocols
Incident response planning
Analysis and reporting
Even if you have in-house IT, you may still be vulnerable to cyberattacks. Most infrastructure technology personnel lack the specific training and certification to fully protect your small business against cyberattacks.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cyber Security
These are some of the most frequently asked questions by business managers and owners, as well as answers from our cybersecurity experts.
Why Would a Cybercriminal Target My Small Business?
It’s a common misconception that cyber hackers are always looking for a “big score,” and therefore, smaller businesses are less likely to experience a cyberattack. But the truth of the matter is that hackers will see smaller businesses as easier targets. So, while there is less to gain, they don’t have to be as skilled to breach their defenses.
What Do Cybercriminals Gain by Attacking a Small Business?
Hackers who attack small businesses are doing it for monetary gain. In the case of malware, the path to profit is obvious, but they can also access the credit card information of your clients or your business accounts.
Why Shouldn’t I Just Let My IT Staff Also Handle My Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is a highly specialized area of information technology. If you are using an MSP/MSSP, they should be able to provide you with the necessary protection your company needs. However, if you have an in-house IT manager, it’s unlikely that they have the requisite expertise for small-business cyber security. To meet today’s threats, it’s crucial to have the advice and direction of fully-trained cyber security professionals.
Top-Tier Cybersecurity MSSP
Flagler Technologies is a Managed Service Provider and a Managed Security Service Provider. Our staff is certified in the latest cybersecurity tactics and routinely trained and updated on emerging threats. Don’t lose your money, your reputation, and the goodwill of your customers to cyberthreats. Contact Flagler Technologies today for ironclad cyber defense.