Small business owners tend to make the common mistake of thinking that their company is not at risk of a cyber-attack, or that an online scammer won’t try to gain access to sensitive customer or business information. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth, because small businesses are at risk much in the same way that large companies are under constant threat of cyber-attacks in an increasingly dangerous online world. After all, hackers and scammers stand to gain plenty by stealing even a handful of credit card information, which is enough to ruin your brand’s reputation in the eyes of your customers.
It should go without saying that you can’t allow this to happen if you want to take your company forward and grow your small business over the long term, which is why you need to identify the potential cyber threats and implement the right security measures. Let’s take a look at the five key cyber security threats and how you can defend your company, employees, and customers against them.
Malware and ransomware attacks
The first and some of the most common cyber threats that you should be wary of are malware and ransomware attacks. Even though both of these attacks include some form of malicious software entering your system, it’s important to know the distinction so that you can integrate the right security and disaster recovery measures. Malware attacks can encompass a wide range of viruses that can infect your computers and other devices, and gain access to your data stores to either destroy data (which is why you need disaster recovery), or steal sensitive information.
On the other hand, ransomware typically means the complete encryption of company data in order to extort money from users in exchange for a partial or complete retrieval of their data. To prevent ransomware attacks from taking hold of your company’s data, you need to integrate strong endpoint protection across all business devices to stop the software from encrypting your data.
Phishing attacks and social engineering
Social engineering, or phishing attacks as they’re more commonly known, is the act of coercing the user to inadvertently give out valuable business, user, or employee information so that the scammer can gain access to the company’s data stores or steal money from customers using their credit card information. There are, actually, many reasons why a scammer might want to obtain this information, but one thing is for sure – you mustn’t allow a phishing attack to be successful if you want to retain your brand’s reputation.
While you do need a reliable network monitoring tool to stay in control of your company’s network at all times and monitor all traffic and communication, you also need to invest in employee training and education. Be sure to conduct comprehensive cyber security workshops for your team members to help them become more proficient in data management and protection, and to educate them on how to spot online scams and phishing attacks quickly.
Weak and poorly-optimized firewalls
Without a doubt, one of the biggest cyber security threats is a poorly-optimized firewall. If you are running your company on out-of-the-box firewall solutions, you are exposing every computer and device in your office to cyber-attacks, which is why it’s important to upgrade your security solution by combining software and hardware firewalls.
Together, software and hardware firewalls can protect your company on all fronts. That said, you also need to work with a reliable small business firewall provider that will optimize these firewalls for your company and your unique needs. The firewalls you use should provide you with real-time protection and threat identification, complete network and security visibility, and added Application Layer security.
Insider threats and poor account management
Given the fact that companies of all sizes use various software solutions on a daily basis, it’s safe to say that your employees have several accounts on different business platforms, including project management software, CRM, marketing, sales software, and more. All of these platforms present potential security risks if you’re not properly managing the accounts of your employees, which can create insider threats.
Be sure to delete the accounts of all employees who are no longer working at your company to close any back doors to your data stores. Additionally, enable two-factor authentication for all accounts and devices to prevent unlawful entry should someone gain access to your employees’ log-in information.
Weak password policies
Last but not least, you should never let your employees create their own passwords for business software and devices. Unfortunately, humans are not very good at creating strong passwords, and employees typically generate passwords that are easy to crack after a few tries. To eliminate this risk, be sure to use a professional password management tool that will create a truly randomized string of letters and special characters to make all passwords impossible to crack.
Cyber threats are becoming more prevalent every year, and nowadays, even the smaller companies are under constant risk of data breaches and leaks. Now that you know what the main threats are and how to defend against them, you should have no problem keeping your company safe in 2020 and beyond.