Global connectedness and the ongoing development of Web 3.0 have radically changed the standards and expectations in the online environment. Small businesses have to increasingly adopt the internet of things (IoT) solutions in order to enhance their customer experiences and respond to the challenges of the surrounding technology environment. However, this openness also contains inherent threats since 43% of all cyber-attacks target small businesses causing reputational, financial, and legal damage that may kill 80% of well-running enterprises within several months. Below are the 5 main cyber security threats that small businesses need to be aware of.
With WannaCry affecting thousands of businesses in 2017-2018, it is easy to put ransomware on the first position of this list. As small organisations frequently cut corners by not having a salaried system administrator and network security control measures in place, it is only a matter of time until one of the untrained employees clicks on some ‘Invoice341.exe’ document sent from a potentially credible address. Next thing you know is all your corporate data is stolen or blocked and the sender is asking for a ransom to give it back. In many cases, paying the money does not solve the problem since the malefactor does not provide the key to unlock your data in return.
The recent IRS W-2 scam affected more than 120,000 people in 100+ organisations in 2017 with people sending their personal information in response to ‘allegedly’ credible messages. Other successful attacks laid waste to Google Docs, Amazon Prime, and Chipotle. While traditional phishing is less dangerous than ransomware, it allows hackers to use social engineering techniques for exploiting organisational ‘backdoors’ to gain access to customer private data. A recent £1 billion fine imposed upon Facebook for GDPR violations may show you the possible scope of adverse confidentiality breach consequences.
Attacks on Cloud-Based Platforms
As the latest word on the street, cloud-based services are frequently deemed impenetrable making many small business owners get rid of any security concerns and safety procedures. However, a hacker brute-forcing a weak root password or stealing it via phishing gets the full access to all your sensitive data stored in the cloud environment with nothing to stop them. The platform will merely recognise him as your employee, especially if you forgot to set up proper geolocation recognition and multi-factor authentication procedures.
Bring Your Own Device
Working on unfamiliar devices may compromise your workforce productivity. Problem is, you have virtually zero control over the security of their personal laptops and mobile gadgets. While major corporations tend to utilise the BYOD concept, it may be much safer for small businesses to completely ignore it unless you have a highly competent IT department capable of managing multi-platform security monitoring. Additionally, consider the costs of installing anti-virus software on your employees’ devices at your own expense.
How many times have you seen a small store employee using the credentials of their colleague to perform some routine operation requiring a higher level of privileges. The most obvious part of this threat is the fact that managers may not be aware of the actions performed by ‘them’ on customer data or financial records. The most interesting part of the privilege misuse starts at the moment when a dormant malware item suddenly gains access to a top-level network machine because a person having their supervisor’s password merely wanted to print a document from an unchecked USB stick.
While cyber threats come in multiple shapes and sizes, there a single common cause behind all of them called ‘incompetent decision-makers’. Most problems arise when a poorly trained employee has the right to do the things that are potentially threatening the functioning and survival of the whole small business. Make sure that you actually have a competent person responsible for setting firewalls, installing antivirus software, managing access rights, implementing authentication protocols, and performing regular data backups. Preferably, employ such specialist or use reliable outsourced security providers to train your employees, update your computers and keep risks in check. Always keep in mind that a person potentially capable of making a wrong decision regarding your business safety must not have the capability to make it.
Ellie Richards is an online Marketing Manager for SEO Outreach agency Outreach Lab. She specialises in research, content and article writing on various topics, including Education, Marketing, and Technology.