The Most Common Cybersecurity Threats Facing Companies Today

Running a company is never easy, but encountering issues with your cybersecurity can cause immeasurable problems for a business including dropped activity or, worse yet, even the complete closure of your firm.

In today’s connected world, cybercrime is increasing at an alarming rate. It was estimated by August 2020 that there had been around 445 million cyberattacks globally this year – double that of the whole of 2019. While many of these attacks were thought to be caused by the coronavirus pandemic and our increased use of the internet through lockdown, the risks remain high for companies and by 2025 the costs of cybercrime are predicted to reach US $10.5 trillion. As companies become increasingly reliant on the web and technology, the risks posed by online criminals will only increase.

Today’s top cybersecurity threats

Many small business owners believe their company is too unimportant or their turnover too insignificant to be the target of an attack – yet the truth is quite the opposite. Often small businesses take a relaxed approach to online security, leading to inadequate protection and leaving them wide open to attacks.

Today’s hackers continue to employ ever more sophisticated and automated techniques, meaning they can target thousands of small business sites at once. Here are just a few of the most commonly reported cyberattacks and what you should look out for:

Phishing: By far the most common (and consequently most dangerous) type of cyberattack is through phishing. Phishing accounts for around 90% of all security breaches and is estimated to cost firms in the region of $12 billion annually. In a phishing attack, the hacker assumes the identity of a trusted individual or company to encourage the user to part with account credentials, download a malicious file, visit a false weblink or allow access to sensitive data. Phishing is particularly difficult to combat as it relies more on the social element of the web and exploits human nature rather than targeting specific weaknesses in technology.

Malware: The clue is in the prefix ‘mal’ but many business owners are confused by the term and left working out what malware is compared to other security concerns. Malware is the second most common form of attack and typically involves hackers using trojans or viruses to infiltrate and infect a company’s network. Once inside, the criminal can access sensitive company information or destroy or steal important files. Malware is often spread through downloads, spam or over connections to other infected devices.

Weak or shared passwords: It seems almost implausible that, in 2020, weak or shared passwords should still be causing an issue when it comes to online security. Nonetheless, employees often use easily-guessed passwords – sometimes shared across multiple accounts – making it very easy for hackers to gain access. As a rule, you should insist your staff uses long, unique, alphanumeric passwords when they access your company’s network.

Ransomware: Again, the clue is in the prefix ‘ransom’. In a ransomware attack, a hacker will gain access to your network then lockdown important or sensitive company data. They will then demand payment to unlock that data. Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are particularly prone to ransomware attacks and it was estimated that around 70% of all ransom attacks through 2018 were in this sector.

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