The Impact of Cyber Attacks on Small Businesses and How to Protect Yourself

Published on : 11 Jan 2023


Impact of cybersecurity on small business

Your business is at high risk if you have no security measures. A cyber-attack can cause devastating financial damage to your business, including legal liabilities.

Cyber-attacks can result in lasting adverse repercussions on the reputation, as clients and customers can lose faith in your business if their personal data gets leaked. It can affect productivity, but you can mitigate the impact of attacks by deploying protective gear and training systems for your business and employees. It is important to educate your employees about the potential effect of suffering a cyber-attack and prepare them to avoid a potential breach.

Network Security Definition: Network security involves every measure required to secure your computer network and the information stored on it from external unauthorized use. Every business must prioritize the security of its network and ensure that it is usable and reliable.

Let us today understand the impact of cyber-attack on business in the article and how businesses can prepare to prevent such attacks.

What Cybercriminals Can Do To Your Business Network

Many small business owners think hackers cannot be interested in their business because of their size or the industry they operate in. But a cyber-security report shows that 43% of data breaches involve small businesses. In essence, small businesses that ignore cybersecurity only do so at their own peril.

Some effects of cybersecurity on your business include:

  • Stealing stored data such as credit card details.
  • Blocking access to critical network and data of the organization in exchange of a huge payment.
  • They may leverage certain information to gain access to the computer systems and other critical network and business infrastructure.

A single attack on your company system can force your business to shut down temporarily as you work to restore operations. In some cases, an attacked business may never regain its functionality. As a result, you may face legal liabilities and fines, and your customer may never trust your business again.

Most Common Attack Types

Most Common Types

The most popular types of cyber-attacks on small businesses include:

  • Malware

Malware is a predominant form of malicious software attack directed at a business network to steal information or disrupt the operation. Malware attacks can damage your system, client, server, or computer network. They can include computer viruses and ransomware kinds of attacks.

  • Ransomware

Ransomware is a malicious software attack targeted at your system to restrict you from accessing critical data for regular business operations. Unfortunately, many cybercriminals see this as an easy way to exploit businesses.

In the United States, ransomware attacks have more than doubled those from France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Belgium, and others of the world’s leading nations.

  • Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are usually deployed via emails and malicious websites. They try to deceive a target into taking an action that would result in downloading sensitive viruses and other infections into their device. This would help them to collect sensitive information or change how a computer system operates.

How Your Business Can Be Protected from Attacks?

Business can be protect from attack

While businesses pay heavily to secure their infrastructure, small business can also take certain measures and deploy some basic security solutions for optimal security. Integrate these solutions and practices in your business system to protect your business from external and internal attacks.

1. Educate All Of Your Employees

A report has shown that 95% of data breaches occur due to human error. These errors may be committed by internal players such as employees, company executives, or external players. And taking the time and resources to equip your workers with the necessary measures to identify and prevent potential attacks.

In addition to this, if you operate a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy, create strategies to secure your employees’ devices. If you think you have a secure network but your employees’ devices are not, your network is still vulnerable to attacks.

2. Good Security Protocols

Another important way that businesses can protect themselves against cyber-attacks is through good security protocols.

You need to make sure that your company has a well-developed security infrastructure in place in order to ensure the protection of confidential information and monetary assets.

It is also important to have regular backups—to protect yourself against any unexpected data loss. You can probably consider implementing various best security measures such as the two-factor authentication for those accessing systems remotely.

In addition to this, companies must have formal policies in place on what employees should do if they suspect or detect a cyber-threat or if their account has been hacked. For example, if an employee suspects their account has been hacked, they should contact IT staff immediately so sensitive information isn’t compromised further.

3. Make Strong Password Usage and Multi-Factor Authentication Necessary

There has been a huge report of employee passwords being compromised or stolen due to missing devices and other factors. Further, with remote access becoming increasingly a part of day-to-day business operations, hackers are also discovering much easier ways to steal data through weak passwords.

  • All employees must separate their work passwords from personal ones.
  • They should also consider changing their passwords every month or quarter to prevent compromise.
  • Passwords must not have any personal information included.

Another viable approach to securing access to your network is to set up Multi-factor Authentication. Multi-factor authentication is a method of protecting your application by using a second source of validation before access is granted to users. A common method is to use your devices, such as a mobile device or geographic location is to create additional means of authentication.

An employee must type in a password and an extra code generated by an application that can only be accessed via a personal device.

4. Restrict Access to Critical Data

Limit access to your company’s financial information, spreadsheets, human resources files, account data, and customer information. Internal actors can leverage this opportunity to use the information for personal gains. And some of the reasons they may consider launching an attack on your system include the following;

  • For monetary incentives: Employees with financial motivations can devise means to meet their wants.
  • As a form of revenge: When you fire an employee, they may sort ways to get back at you through a cyber-attack.
  • Espionage: Spy workers may be seeking opportunities to gain secret information about your business.

5. Encryption

Encryption tools are quite valuable in securing your data from being tracked and used by authorized individuals. This is because the encryption process converts data into difficult-to-comprehend texts, allowing only authorized users to access the information through an encryption key.

Ensure to encrypt all company resources, including tablets and smartphones, and keep the encryption key or password secure. Also, ensure you do not share the key or password in the encrypted document.

6. Installation of Firewall Security

Firewall security will help protect important data and can do so by isolating servers from accessing outside networks. These firewalls are also able to filter traffic based on different types of applications and functions running on the server.

7. Implementing an Intrusion Detection System

Another safeguard you might consider implementing is an intrusion detection system (IDS).

An IDS will monitor network traffic and alert you when something suspicious occurs. If a breach does occur, an IDS can assist in shutting down the attack from happening further and assisting you in taking appropriate action against the attacker.

Furthermore, it allows for real-time monitoring of any potential threats or breaches, which could be invaluable if the attack has already occurred.

8. Wi-Fi Network Security

One way to protect your company from cyber-attacks is to implement strong Wi-Fi network security. This includes the use of audio surveillance, video surveillance, and in-depth analysis of the network traffic.

By using these techniques, you can detect anomalies that could be indicative of an attack on your network.

Additionally, when using Wi-Fi networks, it’s important to ensure that your network is secured with two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA allows for a stronger level of security because it requires attackers to have something as well as know something about the user: something they physically possess and knowledge of their password.

Another way to protect your company from cyber-attacks is to not use public Wi-Fi networks. While there are benefits associated with public Wi-Fi networks such as convenience and cost savings, there are also many risks that come along with using public Wi-Fi networks like the risk of being attacked by malicious actors or having your personal information stolen.

9. Installation of Anti-Virus Software

Antivirus software makes sure that you’re protected against viruses and other threats that might harm your company’s systems.

Of course, there are many different types of software available for companies to use, but some are more effective than others. Some popular antivirus programs include Nordlayer and NordVPN.

10. System/Device Access Management

The first and most basic way that your business can protect itself from cyber-attacks is by having a system for managing who has access to certain devices and systems. By implementing this system, you will be able to make sure that only those with the appropriate permissions have access to devices or systems.

This ensures that only authorized people have the authority to do certain things on these devices or systems. It also makes it easier for you to keep track of who has accessed which device or system, and it can help you know who might have been involved in suspicious activity.

11. Password Management

To start, password management is necessary. The most common methods for managing passwords are using an automated system or a manual one.

As for the automated system, it’s important to have your passwords protected by two-factor authentication. That way, if hackers get hold of your account and try to log in, they will need both a password and a second factor (such as a PIN) to access the account.

Another safeguard that you can implement is Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). This prevents hackers from getting into your accounts because they need both something you know (your password) and something you have (your phone).

You can also use biometric data like fingerprints or facial recognition as part of your MFA process to make accounts even more secure.

Conclusion

Cyber-attacks are an ever-present threat to small businesses. With more businesses operating online, the risk of a cyber-attack has increased exponentially. Fortunately, some steps can be taken to protect yourself and your business from these threats. By educating yourself on the latest cyber security threats, using secure passwords and two-factor authentication, and implementing a robust cyber security plan, small businesses can protect themselves from cyber-attacks and keep their data safe.

Narendra Sahoo
Narendra Sahoo

Narendra Sahoo (PCI QPA, PCI QSA, PCI SSF ASSESSOR, CISSP, CISA, CRISC, 27001 LA) is the Founder and Director of VISTA InfoSec, a global Information Security Consulting firm, based in the US, Singapore & India. Mr. Sahoo holds more than 25 years of experience in the IT Industry, with expertise in Information Risk Consulting, Assessment, & Compliance services. VISTA InfoSec specializes in Information Security audit, consulting and certification services which include GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, NESA, MAS-TRM, PCI DSS Compliance & Audit, PCI PIN, SOC2 Compliance & Audit, PDPA, PDPB to name a few. The company has for years (since 2004) worked with organizations across the globe to address the Regulatory and Information Security challenges in their industry. VISTA InfoSec has been instrumental in helping top multinational companies achieve compliance and secure their IT infrastructure.