Smith Willas
Smith Willas 18 September 2018
Categories Technology

5 Cybersecurity Challenges Small Businesses Can’t Afford To Overlook

The unprecedented advancements in technology have already made the world a highly connected place. In conjunction with this, the World Wide Web has provided a breeding ground for numerous companies to thrive and succeed.

The unprecedented advancements in technology have already made the world a highly connected place. In conjunction with this, the World Wide Web has provided a breeding ground for numerous companies to thrive and succeed. This internet revolution is somehow also responsible for putting the security of businesses at the peril. “Cyber attacks” are being seen as among the most profound threats of the present generation.

Today, a huge chunk of the world population is connected to the web, which makes them highly vulnerable. Almost every company is operating digitally and every government has to maintain a huge pool of data. In view of this, “cybersecurity” has taken the center stage.

Businesses, in particular, are the prime targets of cyber attacks in recent years. Earlier it was assumed that only large,enterprise-level companies are under threat from hackers. But the truth is small businesses have also become the sitting ducks. Cybercriminals are using highly sophisticated algorithms as well as advanced malware programs in order to rob companies of money and confidential information.

As all of us recently saw how WannaCry Ransomware attack wreaked havoc and caused a chaos across the world. This clearly shows hackers are quite creative in their approach; which brings us to the conclusion that no device, system, or network is 100% safe. Today, small businesses are taking the lion’s share of malware infections on a daily basis, for they are ones who are biting the dust. According to the Ponemon Institute's 2017 State of Cybersecurity in Small & Medium-Sized Businesses report, small businesses have experienced more cyber attacks than the previous year. Therefore, it is all the more important for small businesses to protect themselves and the sensitive data of their customers.

Here are top 5 cybersecurity challenges for small businesses:        

  1. Phishing

Phishing is the most common form of cyber attack that uses a disguised email as a weapon. In this form of attack, hackers trick the email recipients into believing that the message they got is very important and worth viewing. The victim then goes on to clicking a malicious link that can lead to the installation of the malware and subsequently, freezing of the system. It could be masqueraded in the form of bank messages, or a company the victim might do business with. Small businesses are extremely vulnerable to phishing attacks as the latter is often used to gain a foothold in corporate networks. In view of this, advanced persistent threat (APT) is a scenario where employees are compromised in order to bypass security measures. After that, a malicious software is planted inside a closed environment, and a privileged access to secured data is gained. Thus, to mitigate phishing attacks, one of the most effective steps at the disposal of small businesses is “two-factor authentication (2FA)”. 2FA adds an extra verification layer when logging in to sensitive applications.

  1. DDoS Attacks

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is said to have taken place when a hacker attempts to make it impossible for a service to be delivered. This can be achieved by preventing access to virtually to anything – servers, devices, services, networks, applications, etc. A denial of service (DoS) happens when a single system sends the malicious data; a DDoS, on the other hand, comes from multiple connected online devices, collectively known as “botnet” – used to overwhelm a target website with fake traffic. A DDoS attack is a noticeable event that impacts an entire online user base. For this very reason, many cyber-activists or cyber-extortionists use DDoS as a popular weapon of choice just to make their point. Just like large corporations, small businesses are also on the radar of DDoS attacks. In fact, cybercriminals prefer to attack small companies because they typically don’t have resources for high-end cybersecurity protection. Small businesses always need to be on their toes to protect their business as well as customer data, they can use infrastructure penetration testing to improve overall security or outsource DPO services for total cyber threat protection.

  1. Ransomware

A ransomware attack is a form of cyber onslaught in which a dangerous malware is planted inside a victim’s computer, and the latter is denied access to his own data. The attacker demands a ransom from the victim, promising — not always truthfully — to restore access to the data upon payment. Some of the most aggressive forms of ransomware, like NotPetya, exploit security holes to infect computers without needing to trick users. Ransomware attacks are posing a great cybersecurity threat to global organizations. According to  Verizon's 2018 Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR), ransomware attacks are now moving into business critical systems, which encrypt file servers or databases, inflicting more damage and commanding bigger ransom requests. The report highlights that ransomware accounts for 39% of the total malware-related data breaches. It also brings to the surface the fact that the human factor continues to be a key weakness. An effective way for small businesses to disarm such attacks is to use a system that stops rogue files from getting into the system in the first place.

  1. IoT opens excessive entry points

Due to the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), the world is increasingly getting overwhelmed with interconnected devices, which is a highly convenient proposition to keep remote things at fingertips. The flip side, however, doesn’t paint a good picture either as these many devices connected to the internet are potentially vulnerable. For example, the heating element of a smart coffee machine can be hacked remotely and broken down. When it is turned on, it automatically opens up a non-encrypted hot-spot that’s easy to compromise. As a result, the attacker can get hold of SSID and password to the wireless network. Juniper research estimates that businesses are likely to spend $134 billion annually by 2022 on cybersecurity alone while the IoT sector will likely grow to 20.4 billion devices by 2020. It is imperative for small businesses to now ensure that all IoT devices (such as alarm systems, GPS, web cameras, HVAC, medical devices like peacemakers) are set up correctly and there’s no room for a network breach.

  1. Lack of investment in cybersecurity

Small businesses are becoming the big targets of cybercriminals is itself indicative of the fact that there is not enough investment taking place in the field of cybersecurity, especially on the part of small businesses. According to a report by Better Business Bureau, 43% of all cyber attacks were directed at with small businesses, yet seven out of 10 small businesses considered it unlikely that they’d suffer a cyber attack. Hackers today are paying a higher level of attention to cybercrime. But for small businesses, a limited budget, cybersecurity can be a tricky job. Businesses have to keep on top of their minds the need for increased cybersecurity. They should invest in emerging applications security testing tools. Another key factor businesses need to consider is the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will likely drive investments in data loss prevention (DLP) technology. Companies should also consider deploying more intelligent solutions to make up for the fact that there are not enough security personnel to manage their cyber tools.


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