Cyber theft has been on the rise, and businesses are the primary targets of most cyber-attacks. Small businesses face the same level of vulnerability as larger enterprises. Hackers take advantage of the relative lack of visibility or recognition of small businesses to carry out cyber thefts and ransom attacks. In this article, we will explore the importance of cyber security, the different types of cyber-attacks, and how small business owners can effectively protect their businesses with limited resources.
What is cyber security?
Cyber security means all preventive procedures and frameworks adopted to guard digital valuables. It also refers to all measures and techniques set up to repel cyber threats and cybercrime. Digital valuables include confidential data, operational information, financial transaction, etc.
Small businesses adopt cyber security to prevent attacks on their customers’ financial data like credit card details, National Identification Numbers (NIN), social identification numbers, bank details, etc. Common categories of cyber security are the following:
- Network security: Includes securing all forms of computer networks within and outside the business’s system. It covers arranging a free flow and scrutinizing network operations to prevent corrupt influences.
- Data security: This includes encryption of data on every end of reception. Data privacy of data is a secure way to prevent customer and business vulnerability.
- Application security: It entails the protection of software and other installed programs in the business computer and digital system. Compromised application software can expose or corrupt business digital valuables.
- Operational security: This category covers the medium of accessing stored data either by the data provider or business personnel. It covers the level of permissions for using business digital values.
- End-user-education: This involves teaching users and business customers ways to prevent cyber-attack. It is when customers are enlightened to avoid malicious links, emails, and files.
What are cyber threats?
Cyber threats or attacks are malicious internet practices targeted to damage, steal, corrupt, or disrupt digital valuables. It is a black hat of gaining forceful or unauthorized access to computer networks, data, and other digital assets.
Cyber threats or attacks can come from hackers, crime syndicates, terrorist groups, disgruntled insiders, or accidental activity. The cyber landscape is large and porous to diverse players. According to a RiskBased Security report in 2019, over 7.9 billion business data are exposed to various forms of cyber threats. In 2022 a FireEye report stated that 77% of cybercrimes are towards small businesses.
Types of cyber threats small businesses face
- Phishing Attacks: Phishing attacks are when users click on malicious links, open malicious mail, download a malicious file, or give wrong players access to sensitive data. Phishing attacks are usually well organized, where the attackers pretend to be legitimate. They target persons in the business, rather than targeting the business’s technological flaws.
- Malware Attacks: These include different types of viruses. The attackers gain back-door access to customers and business information aiming to cause heavy damage to the business. Malware attacks come through malicious downloads, sharing of corrupted files, and infected email links.
- Ransomware: is the illegal encryption of business data to render it unusable, followed by coercing the business owner to pay a ransom fee to regain access to the data. This forces small business owners to pay the ransom to protect sensitive business data from being permanently lost.
- Password compromise: Attackers manipulate the password of business data storage to gain access. Small businesses that uses easily guessed password are more at risk of this type of cyber threat.
How to cyber secure small businesses
For most businesses, it is not a matter of if they will be attacked, but rather a question of whether they have already been attacked or will be attacked without their knowledge. Cyber-attacks frequently focus on compromising clients’ data. When clients’ data is compromised, businesses may suffer not only financial losses but also reputational damage and harm to relationships.
As a small business owner, here are how to cyber secure your business:
1. Instil cyber discipline or awareness in your staff
Cyber security education is not the duty of the IT team alone. Other business team members should have basic cyber security training. Workers should be aware of and understand the types of cyber threats, and how they can be accessory to such attacks. Small business owners should invest in cybersecurity training and cultivate security protocols to make workers conscious of the process. It will prevent organized attacks like phishing.
2. Maintain a Firewall
Businesses need to be conscious of this operational security. The IT team should always enable the operating system’s firewall to prevent operation and application attacks. Installing anti-virus software on all business devices prevents external devices from corrupting your system. A firewall also includes creating strict permission for business data. Workers should not install any software without the consent of the IT department.
3. Control Network Access
It involves having a structured network system for the business. Cyber security experts recommend that businesses avoid centralized network structures. It will enable users to prevent engineered attacks through workers. Small businesses can adopt Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) or Second-Factor Authentication (2FA) to prevent unauthorized access. There should be a quality restriction on access to the Wi-Fi network in the company. Workers should not work on public Wi-Fi hotspots.
4. Backup business files regularly
Small businesses should regularly backup their data to prevent data loss. Data storage should be both offline and online. It will make you leverage backup data during a ransomware attack.
5. Regularly Risk Assessment
As a business owner, direct your IT team to evaluate your cyber security regularly. This exercise will reveal any vulnerability. And identify and analyze any possible threats. Test where clients’ data are stored regularly and ensure the security measure is up to date to prevent cyber-attacks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Using mobile devices for communication and for sharing data creates inherent security issues and adds more points of access to the network. Mobile devices are vulnerable to viruses and other malicious infections through data sharing.
Poor IT infrastructure makes most small businesses vulnerable to attacks. Hackers know about this flaw and often explore it. Also, ignorance of the business owner and workers about cyber threats.
Few business owners know about cyber security but many do not know enough to protect their businesses.
No, cases of cyber threats are on the increase exponentially in sophistication intensity, diversity, and volume. Most of these cyber-attacks are intentional and organized.
The digital economy is thriving for small businesses, thanks to the Internet’s ability to provide easy access to customers. However, the frequency of hacker attacks is on the rise, particularly targeting small businesses. To effectively mitigate these risks, small business owners must be vigilant about their online presence and how they handle their digital assets in the cyber landscape. It is essential to stay aware of current cyber threats and educate employees on how to prevent organized cyber-attacks. For small businesses in need of assistance, it is advisable to reach out to a trusted computer repair company for help.