The Top 4 IT Risks For Small Businesses

Most small businesses assume that the bigger enterprises are more under cyber threat. This assumption is not right

Small businesses are often considered as an integral part of the economy of a country as they are responsible for the creation of a number of job opportunities. The small business houses depend a lot on revenue growth and loss prevention. The SMBs are hit quite hard as soon as one of these suffers a decline. A network breach or a computer virus outbreak may lead businesses to lose thousands of dollars and even face legal liability as well as lawsuits.

Most small businesses assume that the bigger enterprises are more under cyber threat. This assumption is not right. In fact, it is the other way round. With a sense of false security, most small to medium sized businesses don’t take adequate steps to protect their network and are thus vulnerable to virus, hacker attacks or consumer data theft.

Security Challenges Faced by Businesses
In the course of last few years, malware or malicious software has been a serious threat to businesses. In fact, in terms of frequency, it occupies the top most position. A program that is designed to copy itself and propagate, it can spread when you download files, exchange CDs, DVDs and the USB sticks or copy files from the server. You can also get a virus attack in case an employee opens an infected email attachment. Application specific hacks, blended attacks, unsecured wireless networks and disgruntled employees pose other security threats.

The goal of most cyber-criminals is to steal and exploit confidential data, such as banking or personal information for identity theft. Some cyber-criminals merely want to cause chaos or attack random organizations. Below introduces the top four security risks for small businesses where these criminals will try to extract critical information or damage computer systems.

Phishing

One of the most common types of cyber-theft are phishing scams that are designed to surreptitiously collecting confidential information such as bank PINs, login credentials and credit card information. Phishing usually appears in the form of a legitimate-appearing, but fraudulent email or website. Some phishing scams are mass emailed to unsuspecting individuals, but others are individually crafted for certain recipients. However, as people become more aware of phishing scams, cyber-criminals are using more sophisticated techniques.

Malware

This general term applies to a variety of malicious software that cause damage or allow unauthorized access to the victim’s computer. There are actually many different types of malware, such as viruses, worms, spyware, key loggers, ransom-ware and Trojan horses. The best defense against malware is through using industry-standard security programs. The next best defense is to consult with an IT professional to benchmark and test the small business’ network security. Some small businesses find it beneficial to outsource all IT needs to a third-party company.

Password Attacks

Cyber-criminals want to crack passwords so they can access their victim’s accounts and databases. There are different types of password attack, such as a brute force attack that uses aggressive software programs to methodically guess passwords, and key loggers, which track all of a user's keystrokes. Therefore, small businesses should properly protect any online systems that allow employees or customers to log-in through the Internet. Physical security is also important, so laptops and other computer equipment should be properly locked up.

Advanced Attacks

There are also advanced attacks that cyber-criminals use to harm businesses. For example, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack occurs when a server is deliberately overloaded with requests. The goal is to shut down the victim’s website or network system. As a result, users will be unable to access the site or network, which may result in financial losses or even a complete shutdown of business operations. There are also advanced persistent threats (APTs), which are long-term cyber-attacks that attempt to breach a network in multiple phases and places to avoid detection. These often complex attacks research their targets, delivering customized malware and slowly extract captured data.
 
As a final note, small businesses should continually re-train employees on current and emerging technology security risks.

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