Small business owners sometimes have the impression that just because their organisation is small, it cannot be a target of cybercrimes. Cyber-attacks can be a a huge threat to small businesses
Cyber threats are increasingly common nowadays, and numbers are suggestive of this fact; 39% of businesses in the U.K. experienced at least one cyber-attack in 2021, as the U.K. Government found. The reason companies often fall victim to cybercrimes is because they hold sensitive information like customers’ personal data, bank account details, marketing strategies, etc., that might be useful to some malicious actors. That is why businesses, small- and medium-sized alike, are obliged to protect themselves from cyber breaches under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
But, before taking the proper measures against cybercriminals, an entrepreneur should first know the difference between the various kinds of cyber-attacks on small businesses
Here are some of the most common types of security threats, along with practical ways to avoid them.
Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks
A MitM attack happens when a cybercriminal intercepts a two-party transaction or session between a customer and server and implants themselves in the middle (hence the name). Their next move is to interrupt traffic, allowing them to steal and compromise information without someone discovering them.
This type of cyber-attacks for small businesses has become pretty common. One of the reasons many data thieves opt for such a method is because people are often negligent about their network security vulnerabilities. Thus, we recommend using a virtual private network (VPN) to keep your sensitive information away from the curious eyes of some malicious actor. VPNs act to hide any trace of purchase or transaction, which may expose valuable financial information. Your IP (Internet Provider) address is also safe, so no hacker could localise your device.
Session hijacking, IP spoofing, and replay are common types of MitM attacks, so, as you can see, it is more elaborate than you think; that is why it is so difficult to detect.
Such attacks are quite complex, as it implies coding using server query language (SQL). That means a malefactor wanting to steal confidential company data needs some experience and knowledge in the field. To execute an SQL query on a database-driven website, hackers have to inject malicious code into a service that uses this language. Hackers trick that server into exposing sensitive information such as user lists and client details. An SQL command allows malicious individuals to read confidential information, modify it, perform management operations on the database, and enter a command into the operating system.
One of the best measures you can take against an SQL injection is applying the principle of least privilege (POLP) to limit users’ access rights. You can also protect your businesses from SQL injections by implementing prepared statements with parameterised queries.
Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks
A DoS attack happens when cybercriminals overwhelm a system’s resources with traffic, making it unresponsive to any service request. Such an attack can shut down a system, making it impossible for the owner to access it. Another similar attack relates to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) that, unlike DoS, is launched from a large number of host machines, all compromised by the malefactor.
Cloud-based systems, for example, are at high risk of being slowed down by DDoS. Here, attackers use large-scale botnets to “flood” the network and thus access essential data stored in the cloud. Fortunately, there are hybrid cloud solutions that provide organisations with added security. A hybrid cloud protects data and apps with an anywhere recovery, so even if you are exposed to malware in public, such a cloud acts in your best interests. Cloud, either public or private, is a crucial technology for digital transformation, but the hybrid cloud takes the best from both variants, allowing you to have more control over your corporate data. Platforms like Nutanix, for example, can help you handle cloud challenges that are so common nowadays.
DoS attacks and DDoS should be taken very seriously because they can put businesses at risk of losing crucial information. This will not only affect companies’ reputations, but it will also cost a significant amount of money. But do you know what is intriguing? That hacker does not directly take advantage of them: the simple fact that they infect a system is enough for some of them. When it comes to business competitors, such attacks are quite frequent, so you would better secure your system before waking up with your data compromised.
Internet of Things (IoT) Attacks
We know that the “Internet of Things” does not sound like a threat, but trust us, it is. While Internet connectivity proves extremely helpful, it also can hide several dangers. All that you search on the Internet leaves traces behind, no matter how much you want to believe the contrary, so if these “traces” are available, hackers will not hesitate to make use of them for their malicious purposes. There is an incommensurable number of access points for cybercriminals to wreak havoc and exploit other devices. Note that an IoT attack benefits from the vulnerabilities in hardware, networks, and operating systems, so whenever hackers find an access point, it might be the cause of the low importance given to embedded security.
The best you can do to protect your business from the Internet of Things is to update the OS regularly and build hard-to-decipher passwords for your IoT devices on your network.
Credential stuffing refers to stolen passwords used by cybercriminals to access user accounts. Fortunately, this kind of attack can be avoided if you pay more attention to how you build your passwords. Try as much as possible to create passwords consisting of random combinations of letters, symbols, and numbers, and make sure these are not connected to you. We know that a password of the type name plus birthdate is much easier to memorise, but it also puts you at the risk of having your accounts compromised.
Cyber security has become a necessity in this data-driven world. As you can see, there are various ways in which a cybercriminal can get their hands on your most valued data, so make sure you take the right measures to keep your business cyber safe.