Rudy Shoushany is the Founder & host of DxTalks: The Digital Transformation talk show and digital events for MENA. Follow him on Linkedin.
Just as there are two sides to every coin, there are also two sides to the technology coin. Technology has transformed and continues to change our daily activities, making it even more seamless to achieve more with less time and effort. Every aspect of our way of life has been digitized, from the subtlest—such as household chores—to the most complex technology applications.
However, it’s not all that rosy and good-intentioned on the other side of the coin, as there are a minority that have sadly made it their duty to use technology for all the wrong reasons. Cyberattackers are the modern-day Freddy Krueger on the business street. But how can you avoid falling asleep and getting trapped in a nightmare?
Walking A Tight Rope
Attackers are akin to a roaring lion constantly prowling around looking for businesses to fall into their trap. No business is safe from the grasp of these bad actors, as they’re all at risk of cyber threats.
Cybersecurity is a growing issue for businesses globally, as more and more attacks are being carried out by criminals who are targeting businesses for their valuable information, which can then be sold on the black market. Large organizations, as well as smaller businesses, are all walking a tight rope, as there are no exceptions to these attackers. The menace of cyberattacks on businesses has taken another turn since the pandemic, as more businesses became susceptible to attacks owing to a surge in online transactions because of the lockdown.
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Cybercrime went up by 600% due to the pandemic, and one of the most prominent attacks was the breach of the social media giant Twitter in 2020, with 130 accounts compromised, including those of Elon Musk and Barack Obama. In the end, more than $100,000 in Bitcoin was carted away through hundreds of transactions. Also in 2020. a breach in Marriott’s system led to the data tampering of over 300 million hotel guests.
Small businesses aren’t in the clear as they would have hoped either, as they are more vulnerable to attacks. These businesses often don’t boast the technological defenses needed to ward off attacks or have the resources to invest heavily in cybersecurity. But small doesn’t equate to little financial or resource prowess in business. The chances are high that some small businesses could be dealing with large sums of money or have a large amount of customer data at their disposal. With 43% of small businesses lacking any type of cybersecurity defense plan, it’s not a surprise that they’re a lucrative target for hackers.
Cybersecurity Risks Facing your Business
Small businesses face cybersecurity risks not only from cybercriminals but also from their own employees. Below are the top six cybersecurity risks facing your company.
1. Ransomware Attacks: Ransomware attacks are among the more prevalent cybersecurity threats facing small businesses today. These attacks work by encrypting a company’s data and holding it hostage until a ransom is paid. According to research results, 48% of malicious email attachments are Microsoft Office files, and the average cost of a ransomware attack on a business is $133,000. Companies often pay these ransoms because they don’t have the time or resources to recover from a ransomware attack.
2. Phishing: Phishing is the biggest and most popular cyber threat facing businesses. These scams work by tricking a user into providing their personal information by sending an email that appears to be from a trusted source or website. Companies aren’t immune from these scams. In one cyberattack, hackers accessed sensitive information about more than 20,000 employees of a federal agency by posing as company executives and sending an email with malware attached.
3. Malware Attacks: Malware is a relatively simple method of attack, and small businesses should protect themselves against it. Malware attacks work by infiltrating a computer through an email attachment or other loophole and then executing without the user’s knowledge. Once inside, malware can wreak havoc on digital files by changing settings and permissions, blocking specific programs from running and spying on user activity. Malware is also commonly found on public Wi-Fi networks, where users are at risk of having their devices compromised if they visit an infected website or simply browse the wrong page.
4. Social Engineering: Social engineering is when hackers trick people into giving up sensitive information through various means, such as pretending to be someone else or posing as a company representative. With the rise in popularity of social media, social engineering has become rampant, and messages sent via these platforms may contain malware that can steal a user’s personal information.
5. Data Theft: One of the main concerns for small businesses is data theft. Data theft occurs when hackers take personal information from employees through trickery or dishonest practices. By gaining access to an employee’s email account, hackers can easily spread ransomware, phishing and pharming attacks within a company’s network.
6. Insider Threats: Internal employees pose a significant security threat to businesses of all sizes. Employees leave data behind on USB drives, provide easy access to company files by using the same password on both personal and work accounts and fall for phishing schemes that trick them into providing their login information. Studies have found that 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error.
Prevention, they say, is better than the cure. You stand a better chance of preventing attacks by putting measures in place. The best way for small businesses to protect themselves against cybercrime is to have a comprehensive security plan—one that includes preventing data loss, having an incident response plan in place, reviewing staff access privileges and training employees on cybersecurity best practices.