With the number of cyber threats on the rise, it’s no wonder that Cincinnati small businesses are more vulnerable than ever.
As a small business owner in Ohio and Northern Kentucky, you already have your hands full. Between setting up your company and managing its daily operations, it’s easy to forget that potential threats are lurking around every corner—especially regarding cyber security.
But while it’s tempting to think that cybercriminals only target large corporations with deep pockets, the truth is that they don’t discriminate. Cincinnati small businesses are just as vulnerable as their larger counterparts. That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of the latest cyber threats and learn how you can keep your business safe.
What Are Cyber Threats For Small Businesses?
Cyber threats are any malicious activity that can be used to compromise a computer, network, or system. The threats can be targeted at individuals or businesses, and they can be used to steal information or money from you. Cyber threats are not just limited to computers either; they also include cell phones, tablets and other devices that connect to the Internet.
It is a growing problem that has been around for years, but it is only recently that people have started to realize how much of a threat it is. In fact, the United States carries the title for the highest data breach cost, which is $9.44M in 2022—and that’s just the average! In 2021 alone, there is a 50% increase in overall attacks per week on corporate networks compared to 2020 reported by Check Point Research (CPR), counting over 900 attacks per organization.
The bad news? These attacks are only getting worse—and they’re becoming increasingly personal as well. Hackers aren’t just targeting large corporations anymore; they’re going after small businesses as well. If you’re a small business owner, it’s important to understand the types of threats you might face and how best to protect your company from them.
We’ve put together this list of the top twelve cyber threats for small businesses in 2023 so that when disaster strikes, you’ll be ready with our expert advice on how to handle each of these situations.
Phishing is a form of social engineering that’s designed to trick users into giving up sensitive information, like passwords and credit card numbers, by posing as a trustworthy entity in an email or electronic communication. This type of cyber threat is especially dangerous because it can come from someone you know or trust—like a friend, family member, or colleague—and it can be difficult to detect.
This cyber threat is typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website that looks almost identical to the legitimate one. They are often sent to large amounts of people at once with the goal of getting them to click on the link or download something. In such attacks, the fraudsters get access to personal information.
It’s also one of the easiest ways for criminals to get into your systems and steal money or information, so it’s worth taking extra precautions to protect yourself from it.
Malware is short for malicious software and is designed to disrupt computer operations, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. Malware comes in all shapes and sizes: viruses, worms, trojans, adware, and more—it generally means any software that has malicious intent—and you can find it just about anywhere online.
According to a recent study by McAfee Labs, malware infections are on the rise overall—and they’re growing fastest among small businesses. Malware can be spread by email attachments, websites, downloads, and even physical media such as USB drives. It is especially spread across the Internet via infected websites or downloads from untrustworthy sources like peer-to-peer file-sharing networks or torrent sites.
This type of threat can spread without users’ knowledge, and once you are infected with malware, you can lose access to all your personal data, and financial data or even see your private photos stolen by hackers.
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts all your important files and demands payment in order for you to regain access to them again. The ransom varies from case to case, but it is usually not recommended to pay the ransom as there is no guarantee that the hackers will release your files back to you in good condition once paid for them.
In the last few years, ransomware has become increasingly popular among cybercriminals, with WannaCry and NotPetya being two examples of particularly destructive forms of ransomware. This type of threat is becoming more common and sophisticated, with some variants now being able to bypass anti-virus and other security software.
Generally speaking, small businesses are more susceptible to these types of attacks than larger companies due to their lack of resources and expertise in cybersecurity. That’s why it’s a popular tool for extorting money from victims who don’t have backups saved elsewhere.
Denial Of Service (DOS) Attacks
A denial of service (DoS) attack is an attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users. An attacker sends large amounts of traffic to a target system, preventing legitimate users from accessing the service. This kind of attack typically results in a complete outage as the server is flooded with requests and cannot handle them all at once.
A DoS attack can also be used to steal information from databases if the attacker uses SQL injection techniques to send commands directly into the server database. The former may be intended to make a particular machine or network resource unavailable, such as denying access to the site hosting information one wants to keep private. The latter may be intended to prevent an individual or organization from communicating with others, effectively silencing them.
These attacks are not just annoying—they can also be dangerous if they knock out the critical infrastructure of your small business. This type of cyberattack is usually carried out by botnets—groups of computers that have been infected with malware and controlled by hackers remotely.
Credential stuffing is one of the most common and effective methods of hacking a small business’s online accounts. In this attack, hackers use stolen credentials from multiple sites to test them on other websites until they find an account that works. The attacker then uses that account to access your data, steal money from your account, or even wipe out your company entirely.
These attacks are common because they can be automated, and they’re not very sophisticated, so they’re easy to execute with very little skill required. Based on the 2021 Credential Spill Report, annual credential spill incidents almost doubled between 2016 and 2020. The report also found that stolen credentials through theft and sale are nearly 33% of logins used by their customers.
Oftentimes, this works because users reuse their credentials across multiple sites—making them vulnerable as long as those accounts are still active on those sites, even if they’ve been logged off or deleted elsewhere for security reasons.
Mobile Device Threats
Mobile devices are becoming more popular than ever, but they also introduce new security risks for small businesses. With the introduction of mobile devices comes the risk of compromised data and attacks from malware, which can infect both smartphones and tablets alike.
A recent report by Check Point titled Mobile Security Report 2021 found that 97% of companies experienced a mobile device threat in 2020. This is because mobile devices are a great target for cybercriminals. The top three reasons why this happens is because of the ease of access for mobile devices and how easy it is to get information from them. And while many of these attacks are relatively minor (like malware, phishing, or scams), some can be much more damaging—especially when they’re executed over time to gain access to sensitive information.
With that many devices connecting to the Internet, they will inevitably become a target for hackers. Ensure your mobile security is up-to-date, use encryption, and be wary of downloading apps from unknown sources. Small businesses need to make sure that their employees are educated about how to stay safe while using these devices at work or home—especially if they’re storing sensitive data on them.
Botnets are a collection of internet-connected devices that have been hijacked by hackers and used to perform various malicious activities, such as sending out spam emails or launching denial-of-service attacks.
Botnets are considered one of the biggest threats to small businesses because they are made up of numerous devices and thus have the potential to cause significant damage if they were ever unleashed against an organization. Examples of these devices include computers, Smart TVs, routers, and security cameras.
These devices are known as “zombie” machines because they are part of a larger network that can be used for DDoS attacks, which flood a website with traffic to take it offline. Once the device has been compromised, it becomes part of the botnet and can be used for malicious purposes, such as spamming email addresses or infecting other computers with malware.
Insiders play a huge role in most cyberattacks because they have access to company data and other assets that can be used to launch attacks against the company’s systems. Insider threats can come from employees, consultants, and contractors who have been given access to sensitive information or systems within the company.
This attack happens when an employee either accidentally or on purpose exposes sensitive information to hackers or other threats. It often happens because many employees do not realize the importance of protecting their systems and data from unauthorized users. Insider threats occur most often within an organization’s network infrastructure and security systems.
The best way to protect yourself from insider threats is by having strict policies in place that require all employees to follow them when using company systems. You can also prevent this type of attack by educating your employees about cyber security so they understand how important it is not only for their own safety but also for the security of your business as well.
Business Email Compromise (BEC)
Business Email Compromise (BEC) is an attack that uses emails to trick business employees into transferring funds, usually from the company’s bank account to a fraudulent account. Emails are sent out to employees from the CEO or other high-ranking officials requesting wire transfers. The emails may appear credible because they include details about a current project or business deal.
BEC attacks are on the rise, especially in small businesses where employees can access the company’s accounts and financial data. But these scams can also occur when a hacker impersonates a vendor and lures a business owner into wiring money to them, often for goods or services that will never be delivered.
The most common method of gaining access is through phishing attacks, Phishing is emails that appear to come from someone inside the company but are actually sent by hackers. Other methods include malware and social engineering attacks.
Cloud computing has been an advantage for small businesses—it allows them to access their data from anywhere, anytime, and on any device. Unfortunately, this convenience can also make it easier for hackers to infiltrate your network with ransomware or other damaging viruses if you don’t take adequate security measures.
While most cloud providers claim to have strong security measures in place, there have been incidents where hackers were able to breach these systems and steal sensitive data from clients’ accounts. By choosing a professional cloud managed provider with robust security features such as multifactor authentication and encryption, you can help ensure that your data remains safe even if there is an incident at the provider level.
Cloud-based threats have also become a major concern for businesses due to the fact that they are often difficult to detect and prevent. Sometimes, they can be blocked or prevented by implementing an encrypted VPN connection between your office and the cloud servers, but this will depend on your system architecture and setup.
Cryptojacking or Cryptocurrency Mining Malware is one of the fastest-growing cyber threats—it involves malicious software that takes control of your computer’s resources so that it can mine cryptocurrency without your knowledge or consent.
Cryptojacking is particularly concerning because it is often hard to detect, as it can be hidden within legitimate websites. In 2021, we saw a sharp increase in crypto-jacking attacks—according to the 2022 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report, the number of cryptojacking cases in the financial industry increased by more than 269% over the previous year. The average global cases were $66.7 million, up from 30% over the mid-year of 2022.
This cyber threat is an increasingly popular way for hackers to steal from small businesses without even having access to their systems. It works by infecting your computer with malware that uses your processor power to mine cryptocurrency—and then sends all of those digital coins directly into the attacker’s wallet instead of yours. This can lead to significant financial losses for business owners.
Poor Cybersecurity Habits
In addition to technical vulnerabilities, many cyber threats come from employees who don’t follow basic security procedures when using their devices at work.
For example, suppose an employee uses a public Wi-Fi network without protection. In that case, they could be vulnerable to hacking attempts by criminals looking to steal data or install malware on your devices. These types of mistakes are often easy to fix but can have serious consequences if not addressed quickly.
Human error is one of the most common reasons for cybersecurity breaches, and it can happen in any business environment. In 2021, 95% of cybersecurity breaches were due to human error, and this is due to employees not following proper security procedures when accessing sensitive information or using company devices for personal reasons.
Poor cybersecurity habits can lead to potential problems for any company, including data breaches and loss of intellectual property rights. If employees do not understand how their actions are affecting the security of an organization, they could inadvertently expose sensitive data or allow unauthorized access by outsiders.
Boosting Cyber Security For Your Small Business in Cincinnati
Hackers are constantly finding new ways to steal information, and as small businesses grow and become more important in the world economy, they become more vulnerable to attacks. The best way for small businesses to protect themselves is to be proactive about cybersecurity. But if you’re not sure where to start, or need help with professional security needs, 4BIS.COM is here for you.
We’ll help you understand what the most common threats are for small businesses in the next few years, so that you can take action now to protect yourself and your business from them. With the right tools and knowledge, we can protect your company’s sensitive data and avoid paying ransom or falling victim to phishing scams.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help secure your business’s cybersecurity practices, feel free to contact us online or call us at (513) 469-7887.