How Hackers Attack Small Businesses

February 18, 2020

Have you ever wondered how hackers attack small businesses and what they are targeting? Hackers today have many ways to attack small businesses and business owners. Many attempt to use technology to send malware, viruses, or use phishing attacks to get passwords or other information. They can use that information to con owners and employees into handing over access to systems or even transferring money out of the business.  

One or more of these techniques can be combined with gaining physical access to steal from vulnerable firms. Identifying precisely how criminals target businesses and what they deem most valuable can help to protect from the most devastating attacks out there.  

Remaining vigilant and informed is one of the most vital things you can do as a business owner to protect your assets and reputation. Information on how hackers attack small businesses is vital. Here are 4 of the most common forms of attack.

Extortion

A computer hacker

Different types of attacks tend to rise and fall in popularity. Fifteen years ago, computer worms were the most common attack that businesses faced. Security software wasn’t as advanced or as widely used at it is today. Computer worms were, at the time, an exceptionally low-cost and efficient way to inflict the maximum amount of damage for minimum cost.

Today ransomware has seen an unfortunate boom in popularity. This technology aims to encrypt the target’s files on their computer or server. This technique denies the victim access to their files and charges a fee in exchange for the key to retrieve the victim’s own data.

The attack has worked so often because it requires minimal effort and can be used again and again. Many businesses have no option but to pay because the data is worth far more than the ransom demand the hackers have made. However, even if you pay the ransom there is no guarantee you will get your files back. You’re dealing with criminals after all!

The best defense against ransomware attacks, in addition to strong online security, is an up-to-date offsite backup — one that is tested to work reliably. Even this might not be enough. Ransomware can lie in wait on your system meaning the backup is infected as well.

Targeting Customer Records

One of the most important things for your firm to take care of is your customer data records. Records which include personally identifiable information (names, dates of birth, addresses etc.) are sought after by criminals. These details are extremely valuable to hackers or criminals who, either use them personally or sell them on the Dark Web to someone who will.

The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) sets strict laws and guidelines about how this information must be stored, accessed and protected. Failing to follow these can result in severe penalties that could devastate any company.

Targeting Financial Information

Man making an online credit card payment. One method of how hackers attack small businesses.

Like personal information, a small business must take extreme care when storing customer financial information. Sensitive details such as credit card or banking information are a key target for hackers looking to steal money fast.

The impact on your business reputation following a breach of financial data will be severe and devastating. Even a simple mistake can require years of advertising and great PR to repair. Many firms have failed to recover after losing the trust of their customers.  

An it’s not just your customers financial information that might be targeted. Phishing attacks often target those dealing with finance in the business, tricking them into making payments. As the ‘mistake’ is made by a human these types of losses are rarely covered by insurance.

Social Engineering

Most firms today run good IT security packages to protect against online attacks and other forms of malware. Attackers often know to take their methods offline to achieve the best results.

Whether posing as a supplier, customer, or interested party; attackers can seek to gain information that you may be less than willing to hand over to a stranger. Small businesses can often be used to gather information on vendors and suppliers they do business with in order to attack them too.

Be particularly cautious of the information you provide when discussing business with individuals you haven’t spoken to before. 

Keeping Small Business Safe

These are just some of the most popular and hard-hitting attacks out there now. The list is forever changing, and the methods we use to protect against them always needs to change too.

Some can be defended against with great security, backups, and software. Others, such as social engineering, need you and your staff to stay up-to-date and remain vigilant about the major attacks affecting small business today.

How We Can Help

Need support getting ahead of the cybercriminals? At Your IT Department we provide cyber security solutions and expertise. Contact our experts today! Call us on 0115 8220200 or complete our contact form.

Bonus! FREE eBook & FREE Cyber Security Assessment

We offer a FREE cyber security assessment. Find out if your business needs one with our eBook ‘Does Your Business Need A Cyber Security Assessment

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