Research suggests that there’s a new cyberattack every 39 seconds online, with almost 30,000 websites successfully hacked each day.
For small businesses, numbers like these can be unsettling. When your survival as a business depends on your ability to protect your data and your customers, it can be hard to know how to protect yourself from such rampant cyber security threats.
However, knowing about the most common types of attacks can help you prepare for the worst. Here’s what to know about the threats against your company—and how to defend yourself from them.
Phishing is a type of digital attack that works through the power of social engineering. When using a phishing scam, a hacker will try to trick an employee on your team into handing over sensitive business information. This information can include private records, passwords, and other critical information.
In order to do this, the hacker will often create a fake account that resembles the account of personnel from your workplace. In some cases, if they’ve managed to hack into one of your employees’ current accounts, they can use this hacked account to deploy phishing scams on your other employees.
One of the most troubling aspects of phishing scams is that they can happen on any platform. From your workplace email to your SMS messaging to your business’s social media accounts, nowhere is safe from phishing attacks. Worse, because they’re so easy to deploy, phishing scams are among the most common tactics modern hackers use.
Malware attacks can be devastating for businesses of any size. Through these attacks, hackers can send various viruses, trojans, and other cyber threats into your business’s network. This malicious code can then help hackers get access to your sensitive data or destroy some or all of your files.
These attacks can come from a variety of sources.
Often, malware attacks happen via email: all an unsuspecting user needs to do is click the wrong attachment. In the world of business, some of the most common malware scams happen via fake PDFs. Because PDFs are common workplace files, most employees won’t think twice about opening what they believe to be a legitimate resource.
In some cases, malware can come from a website download or, more rarely, by connecting one device to another device that has already been infected with malware.
Ransomware shares many key characteristics with malware. This type of cyber attack happens in the same way, and it allows hackers access to the same kinds of sensitive information.
The difference, of course, is where “ransomware” gets its name.
Once the malicious code of a ransomware attack has found its way into your company data, a hacker can encrypt this information to make it unusable. This allows them to force your company to pay a ransom fee to access your own data. To remain anonymous, cybercriminals often request these fees as Bitcoin or gift cards.
In some cases, the ransom for this information can be millions of dollars for larger businesses. However, even smaller businesses and individual employees can be at risk.
4. Data Breaches
Database exposure has been a hot topic in the media ever since the 2017 Equifax breach, an exposure so large that it affected an estimated 143 million U.S. consumers.
Today, data breaches continue to be a major threat. With the right breach, a hacker can get access to financial information, personal contact details, social security numbers, credit card information, passwords, and more.
Business data breaches can happen in many different ways, and they may happen using one or more of the tactics above. They can also happen as a network attack, through social engineering, or through an attack on a business’s point-of-sale system.
For businesses of any size, these attacks can be devastating not only in terms of security, but also in terms of the company’s long-term reputation.
5. Poor Password Security
Many businesses don’t consider their weak passwords to be a potential threat, but the wrong password can allow cyber criminals easy access to a company’s sensitive data. Using common passwords or using the same password for multiple platforms can be terrible for a company’s security.
This cybersecurity threat is especially troubling because it’s so preventable. The use of a business password manager or multi-factor authentication can offer a significant security enhancement at little to no cost.
How to Protect Yourself From Cyber Security Threats
When it comes to better digital security, there are a few things businesses can do to ensure proper protection for themselves and their customers.
Above all, it helps to educate employees about proper protection strategies. When all teams know what to expect from common phishing scams, how to prevent ransomware and malware attacks, and how to protect company passwords, a business can decrease its long-term risk.
In addition, if your company is not large enough to have a dedicated IT team, it’s crucial to partner with an expert for this service. Managing your own security with a lack of expertise can leave your team vulnerable to attacks. For more information on why professional IT management is your best bet, view here for more.
It’s also helpful to create a cybersecurity plan that everyone in your company follows. This type of document can offer guidelines on things like updates, encryptions, firewalls, attachments, and more, allowing your team to know what to expect from any situation.
Protect Your Business From Digital Threats
With so many cyber security threats to watch out for, it’s easy to feel like your company is vulnerable to these attacks. However, the truth is that you can do a great deal to protect your business, your employees, and your clients from hackers—provided that you put in the time and effort. Partner with a cyber security firm today and educate your team on the proper protective tactics to defend yourself from these threats!