What Your Small Business Should Know About Hacking, Phishing, and Network Security

Published by BradyRenner CPAs | July 20, 2021

Every so often, you might catch a major headline about a large corporation or government organization that has fallen victim to hacking or cybercrime. Such headlines can be misleading because they make it appear as though cyber criminals only go after large targets. Unfortunately, the truth is that small businesses are the favorite and preferred target of hackers and cybercriminals.

In fact, hacking attempts against small businesses are exponentially on the rise. According to an article on Vox, one in five small businesses are victims of a cyberattack. And, those without disaster recovery plans or, at the very least, sufficient data backup systems (about 60%) go out of business within six months.

Phishing attempts are one of the most common methods hackers use to infiltrate a network, but poor network security is often to blame as well. Unfortunately, security isn’t always a major consideration for small businesses that focus much of their budget on other expenses. And that’s exactly what hackers and cybercriminals rely on.
Impact of Hacking and Phishing on Small Businesses

As evidenced by the statistic above, a cyberattack can be devastating for a small business that isn’t adequately prepared. And each year, thousands of small businesses are targets of phishing, hacking, malware, ransomware attacks, and other cyber threats.

The impact of hacking or phishing can vary depending on how far the cybercriminal is able to infiltrate the business network. Damages can range from a loss of data to a total shutdown of your IT infrastructure. Regardless of how severe the damage is, chances are you’ll incur extra expenses trying to repair the damage, recover lost data, and bounce back from a loss of productivity.

Subsequently, a loss of income is also likely, and you may even face lawsuits for allowing private data to fall into the wrong hands. That’s because it is your responsibility to ensure the privacy and security of confidential client and customer data. Failure to practice proper network security protocols results not only in fines and lawsuits but also an overall loss of consumer trust and a hard hit to your brand’s reputation.

Unfortunately, many companies that don’t keep up with small business security needs don’t even realize they’ve been a victim of a hacker until it’s too late. That’s why it’s more important than ever to utilize proper cybersecurity tools or partner with a managed IT services provider that offers 24/7 monitoring of your network and devices. Doing so can help discover, prevent, and eliminate threats and significantly minimize the risk of a successful cyberattack.


Vulnerabilities to Look Out For

Today’s ever-advancing technology has made many daily work functions easier. Unfortunately, it has also created a multitude of vulnerabilities that hackers seek to exploit. When it comes to vulnerabilities in network security, there are two main components to be aware of: IT vulnerabilities and human vulnerabilities.


IT Vulnerabilities in Small Business Security

Without cybersecurity protection and monitoring applications in place, your devices and networks are severely unprotected. This is a major risk, as hackers can easily infiltrate networks that have no protection. It’s almost like opening the door to your business and providing a hacker with all the passwords.
Applications, hardware, and other devices that aren’t updated regularly also pose a security risk. Updates often contain security patches that seal up known security risks hackers can take advantage of.

Using online applications, as well as software from a variety of vendors, also makes it hard to repel cyber threats. Third-party apps may not have the same security advancements as other enterprise-grade software.


Human Vulnerabilities

The majority of data breaches actually occur due to simple human error and a lack of knowledge and experience of hacking and phishing. A general lack of cybersecurity awareness makes it easier than ever for hackers to access private accounts and company networks. Phishing attempts have become increasingly sophisticated and often fool people who thought they’d be smart enough to never fall for such a scam.

Phishing is the act of sending an email message that appears to come from a trusted source. The message typically contains a note of urgency, which causes the recipient to respond quickly without thinking by signing in to a cleverly designed, fake website. Doing so provides a hacker with the recipient’s username and password, enabling the hacker to gain illegal access to a private account.

Phishing attempts have become increasingly sophisticated and are no longer attempted solely via email. Phishing can be done via text messages and social media platforms as well.
With so many employees working remotely or out in the field, there is also the risk of using unsecured Wi-Fi networks. For example, using a public network to enter a private account can provide a savvy hacker with the username and password once again.

And finally, downloads are one of the primary ways a hacker can implant malware or ransomware in a business network. Many employees frequently engage in the act of downloading files from websites to both their business and personal computers and devices. Without antivirus software and other cybersecurity applications, a file that is actually malware can easily and unknowingly be installed on the device.


How to Counter Vulnerabilities With Network Security

As you can now see, using advanced network security tools and applications is vitally important to ensuring security from hacking, phishing, and other cyber threats.

Training employees to recognize and avoid phishing attacks is also an essential component of improving small business security. Additionally, employees should be taught to avoid downloading files from untrusted sources, such as unsecured websites or from email messages.

Securing your networks and enacting a cybersecurity plan that includes regular, secure data backups, network monitoring, and disaster recovery protocols will help keep your data safe from hackers and cybercriminals, ensuring your IT infrastructure stays healthy and functions properly.

For more information, contact the team at BradyRenner CPAs.


Image Credits: Piqsels @Creative Commons