What Are the Biggest Threats to Your Business?
What does work look like? Forget about what your business specifically does, and for a moment, think about what your employees actually do. They communicate with customers and vendors over the phone or through video chat. They plan and collaborate. They file and calculate. They have ideas and save those ideas somewhere. They take work home with them, so they stay productive. For a modern business, all of these activities require technology, and with technology comes risk. Virtually everything your employees do for work requires some measure of cyber security to protect your technology from people who look for weaknesses and exploit them. Communication with customers needs to be secure and confidential, especially if these conversations include personal, financial, or medical information. Creating and saving data needs a process to protect it in the event it is lost or held for ransom.
Cyber security risks for small businesses are everywhere, and the need for security permeates every corner of your business. This means your security strategy should be strong enough to address all threats, internal and external. Security is also a shared responsibility and teamwork is essential to a complete defense.
This blog will take a look at the most important security issues facing companies today and how a modern managed services partner is your best defense against cyber threats, great and small.
Threats From Within
Most business owners see cyber security as protection from outside threats. While there are criminals in black hoodies looking to hack your systems, it’s important that a business looks inward to find their own significant threats to security. No number of firewalls or anti-virus software programs can protect a business from employee error or weak data security procedures. The good news is these threats are easily countered with tighter procedures, better training, and company-wide buy-in.
Lack of Training
Most data breaches occur because an employee was tricked into opening a malicious PDF or by following a suspicious link. Technology can weed out some of the clumsier phishing attacks, but how confident are you that your staff can spot a cleverly disguised spear phishing attempt? Do they even know what spear phishing is? Most employees don’t understand how hackers operate, and more importantly, they are not aware of their role in keeping the company safe. These are innocent mistakes, and it is easy for an employee that gets hundreds of emails a day to accidentally open one because they were never shown what to look for.
Using the combination “1-2-3-4-5” on your luggage isn’t the smartest idea and using “Password1234” on your computer is just as weak. The reality is that people have to remember so many passwords and PIN numbers that it makes sense for an employee to choose an unchanging, easy-to-guess password. But a hacker looking to access your system would only need a few seconds to figure it out.
Missed System Updates
Software updates are such a hassle. Fifteen minutes or more, totally wasted watching a progress bar get longer. The problem is these updates are what protect your system from new threats, and they are the best defense against any outside threat. The printers and routers around your business need the same treatment. If left unpatched and not updated, they can also be exploited.
Just as you only give out keys to the office to trustworthy employees, you should approach data security with the same level of caution. Many businesses are careless about who accesses their networks. Some give out full user credentials to guests because there is no alternative. Most businesses still rely on a single username and password to access their systems, ignoring the benefits of two factor authentication.
No Set Policies for Employees Who Use Their Own Devices
A Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mentality is great for some businesses that don’t supply company phones to their employees. While BYOD may cut costs and be more convenient for employers and employees alike, it creates a long list of vulnerabilities. How secure are employees that access company data on their own time? What happens when a longtime employee that has used their personal device to access company data for years suddenly leaves the company? The phone may belong to the employee, but what about the data on it?
Threats From Outside
Let’s take a look at how the biggest cybersecurity issues can impact your business and how they have changed over the last few years. And remember, it doesn’t matter what size of business you have. Cyberattacks don’t discriminate, whether you have two employees or 2,000.
Phishing is Getting More Sophisticated
Phishing is the method of sending targeted emails or communication that looks genuine to coerce or trick someone into opening a malicious file or follow a dangerous link. In the early days, they focused on quantity over quality; thousands or millions of emails were sent to anyone with an address. However, over the years, they have become more focused and can even include personal details. Hackers use machine learning to create and distribute convincing fake messages. Some of these messages are addressed directly to the employee covering relevant topics. Hackers are getting smarter with their phishing attempts, and businesses that can’t or won’t keep up are increasingly vulnerable.
The Rise of Ransomware
While most cybercrime goes unnoticed, ransomware can be seen everywhere. It’s also the scariest form of cyberattacks, leaving everyone in the company feeling vulnerable and helpless. Ransomware is going pro; instead of one or two computers, cyber criminals will try to target multiple computers in a department or an entire company. Another problem arises when businesses try to pay off ransomware. Ransoms are typically demanded in Bitcoin, a form of currency not found on the typical business’s balance sheet. Ransomware remains a significant cyber threat to businesses of all kinds in 2021.
Remote Workers Require Tighter Cyber Security
The office building as a traditional workspace took a downturn in 2020, as the pandemic forced most businesses to choose whether to send employees home for their safety or risk shutting their doors. Businesses without a strong remote work policy and remote security procedures found themselves at a disadvantage, and they were forced to take drastic temporary measures to comply with a reduced office presence. The risk in 2021 is that these temporary measures are in danger of becoming permanent, which poses a continued threat to businesses that are looking to remain safe. As remote work becomes the expectation, companies should review plans and policies and audit the security of every remote employee. It is a daunting task if your business has 50 remote workers, and it is nearly impossible for hundreds.
Help is on the Way
Fortunately, any business facing these threats has an ally available to help them review their security posture, shore up their defenses, and give them the tools they need to face the IT security issues facing companies today.
At SBT Partners, cyber security always comes first. For businesses that use technology for virtually every function of their operations, our managed IT services are rooted in finding the most secure way to accomplish every mission-critical task.
Security threats are out there, but all of them can be met head-on and remediated so your employees and customers enjoy a thoroughly secure cyber environment. If you are worried about internal and external cyber security threats, reach out to SBT Partners for a free cyber security assessment.