Just because your business isn’t on fortune 500 list, it doesn’t guarantee it’s threat free. If you think hackers attack only the big boys and girls, you may be shocked by these stories. Here are small business cybersecurity threats and how to fix the fox.

There are undeniable stories about small business cyber attacks.

Do you know that Escrow of California was forced to shut down when cyber thefts nabbed $1.5 million from its account? These criminals gained access to the company’s bank data — using a form of “Trojan Horse” malware.

Green Ford Sales, a car dealership in Kansas, lost about $23,000 when hackers broke into their network and swiped bank account information.

Many cybersecurity issues go unreported — they rarely make news headlines.

Shocking one is how cyber thieves drained $1million from Wright Hotel’s (a real estate development firm) bank account. They gained access to the company’s email and used the gathered information to impersonate the owner. These hacks convinced the bookkeeper to wire money to an account in China.

Symantec, one of the leading cybersecurity companies in the world also affirmed in a report that  Attackers Target Both Large and Small Businesses.

Do you know why your business is vulnerable to cyber threats?

  • Your business bank account is loaded with cash.
  • Your company’s security measures aren’t sophisticated enough.
  • Your company directly or indirectly keeps customers’ vital data.

Level up your company’s security against cybersecurity threats using some unconventional approaches.

#1 Watch out for ransomware attack.

Ransomware is one of the most common methods hackers implement. Many small businesses have been ruined because of it. Ransomware is simply defined as malicious software that once it takes over your company’s system, you’ll have to pay a ransom to cybercriminals to get back your stolen data.

According to research by Cyber Security Ventures, a new ransomware attack occurs every 14 seconds. The total number of ransomware attacks will hit 11.5 billion by 2020. Sadly, a ransomware attack can put you out of business because the cost to recover whatever the hackers stole from your company is outrageously high.

Practical measures that can save your business from getting attacked by ransomware:

  • Always keep your operating system(OS) patched and up-to-date: If you’re clueless about how to handle this case, it is advisable to hire an IT expert who is a gladiator in this field to oversee this affair. Also, make sure your employees heed to this rule to prevent loopholes for the attack.
  • Install antivirus software that can detect malicious programs like ransomware as it attempts to feast on your network, and also a whitelisting program that restricts unauthorized applications from executing.
  • Do not install any program or software unless you’re fully aware of what it is and how it works.
  • If your business can hire an IT expert, that’s good. Just make sure that you hire someone ready to take your business safety seriously as if it was their own. But, if you can’t hire at the moment, don’t feel excluded. Just make sure that you and your employees do the needful.

#2 Watch out for spear-phishing attack.

Phishing is another serious cybersecurity threat trending in this age. Actually, this malware targets organizations via email. Many individuals, business organizations and so on are inherently eager to find out what’s in the box.

This form of attack comes in a friendly way that you’d least suspect a thing. Here, hackers trick their targets into opening —  an email, instant message or even a text message.

Trend Micro, a security software firm, reported that  94% of targeted email use malicious file attachments as the infection source. He also revealed that 91% of cyber attacks begin with a “spear-phishing” email.

Research also estimated that there are around 400 phishing attacks every 24 hours and nearly 30% of them are pretty much successful.

Since small businesses are the major victims of spear phishing, here are practical tips on how to save your business from this attack.

You and your employees must avoid clicking on links from unknown senders, especially when the email takes these following formats:

Internal request format:

“ We noticed and have been alerted of a potential breach of our company server. At this time it doesn’t appear that any sensitive information was compromised.

However, we need to take some measures. If you haven’t done so — kindly click here___to reset your email password. We will keep you in touch.

Thanks.”

Government threat format:

” Dear Taxpayer,

This is an automated mail. Do not reply here.

We’ve noticed your account information is incorrect. And we need to urgently verify your account before you can receive your tax refund.

Please click here (…..) to verify your information.

Thanks.”

There are a lot more of phishing email formats that hackers use to cajole people into clicking the attached link in the email they usually send. Be very cautious with any messages you open.

You and your employee should attend seminars and training on cybersecurity awareness.

There are a lot of benefits associated with this. The training will enlighten you and your team on the increased sophistication attacks that target your current position. It will also teach you and your employees how to identify any phishing email when you come across them and many more.

#3 Watch out for BYOD( Bring Your Own Device).

BYOD is great. It’s more convenient and efficient for employees to work with. But, you shouldn’t neglect the fact that it’s very risky. Small businesses are very much vulnerable to data theft, but the possibilities increase when employees are using unsecured mobile devices to share and access the company’s sensitive data.

To save your company from being the next victim you should establish a rock-solid BYOD policy that every employee will understand and adhere to. This policy will aim at educating your employees, and ensuring that their device will only access the company’s network through a secured channel.

In addition, ensure that all the connected devices have proper antivirus and firewall installed.

#4 Watch out for fraudulent apps.

Do you know that all the apps you find in app stores are not completely safe to download and install? Hackers have also leveraged this opportunity to create some work-tool apps that boost daily productivity.

Once an employee (that handles sensitive information) installs the info on their device, it puts them in control of the company’s personal data. Hackers can use these malicious apps to gradually breach the entire company’s network once the employee connects to the company’s network.

How can this fox be fixed?

  • The entire functioning personnel in the company must be aware of this kind of threat.
  • A strong warning on this should be announced: ‘’ Don’t download apps just because you find the reviews appealing to the eyes; consult the company’s IT expert for App approval.”
  • Make sure your services are up-to-date because if they’re not, your business might be at risk.
  • Consider up-skilling members of your company’s IT.

#5 Watch out for weak/hackable passwords.

Weak or hackable password has wreaked havoc on so many small businesses. If you and your employees are still ignorant of this fact, then your company might be vulnerable to this threat.

  • A study on “The State of Cybersecurity in Small and Medium-size Business,” that was carried out by the Ponemon Institute in 2018. They reported that 60% of those surveyed revealed that negligent employees as being the root cause for a breach compared to 37%  that is pointing to external hackers.
  • About 32% of respondents said that they can’t state the cause of their data breach in the last 12 months. Additionally, about 40% of respondents said that their companies experienced data breaches due to employees compromised passwords in the past 12 months.
  • Around 19% of IT and security professionals believe that password protection and management will be increasingly critical compared to last year.

A better way to improve your company’s encryption and authentication process would be to:

Implement a two-way authentication method instead of the regular password that can be scooped up by hackers.

Implement a biometric authentication method.

Implement training that will educate you and your employees on how best to manage and secure passwords.

#6 Watch out for DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks.

Small businesses still regard DDoS as an old-time internet attack. In a real sense DDoS attack is still active. Did you know that the DDoS attack doubled in 2017 and it is still growing?

If you’ve been overlooking the effect of this form of attack, I’d advise you have a rethink. This attack is not only capable of compromising your data, but it can also damage the quality of services you offer.

The attack can entrap your young business with huge amount of web traffic, which automatically slows down your website’s speed. DDoS can make it difficult for customers to do business with you through your website. Consequently, you might end up losing both your customers and revenue.

What is the fix for the DDoS attack?

It’s completely impossible to stop a website from being targeted by DDoS attacks — but you can strategically minimize the attack using the following:

  • 1. Make sure that there is extra bandwidth available. This will give your server more room to accommodate unexpected spikes in traffic.
  • Revamp the security of you and your employees IOT devices.
  • Always be on the constant watch of your traffic level.
  • Hold seminars that will train your staff on how to handle DDoS situations.

Your best defense is an offense. An attack may still target you, but you can minimize the impact by getting directly on a fix for the issues.

You will be less likely to fall under attack if you and your employees all stay alert to the dangers of attacks — believe these can happen — and take these precautions.

Ejiofor Francis

Digital Marketer, Blogger, IT/Technology Copywriter

Entrepreneur and Online Marketing Consultant, Ejiofor Francis is the Founder of EffectiveMarketingIdeas. He’s highly enthusiastic about all things business, IT and blockchain technology, and he shares informative resources to help businesses and consumers stay informed, safer, and smarter online. Want to say hi? Shoot him an email at francis@effectivemarketingideas.com

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