Since the early days of the Internet, hackers have attempted to breach computers. Most of the time, these hackers used computer viruses to gain access to valuable information or bring down a competitor’s website. As our digital systems have grown and become more sophisticated, so have those involved in cybercrime. New players, including hacktivists and nation-states, are developing more advanced malware, making attacks more difficult to defend against. While larger enterprises have the greatest means to invest in cyber defense systems, what are small and medium-sized businesses to do in 2020?
It’s important to understand the current and future landscape of cyber security threats as it pertains to your business. Becoming 100% protected from all threats, all the time is impossible. However, there are a number of things you can do to help protect your company from the most common threats. These are today’s top five cyber security threats for your small or medium-sized business.
The Top 6 Cyber Security Threats of 2020
With over 40% of cyber attacks targeting small businesses, it’s important for any business owner, IT director, or security team member to know how to prepare themselves in the case of an attack. NIC has seen these six threats become increasingly dangerous to firms of all sizes and industries. These are the dangers that could disrupt operations, or worse, permanently close your business.
1. Phishing Attempts that Move Beyond Email
Phishing is a cyber security threat to businesses in which an employee is contacted under false pretenses to lure them into providing data including confidential information, banking details, or passwords. In a survey of over 1,300 IT decision-makers conducted by CyberArk, 56% of organizations identified phishing attacks as their biggest cybersecurity threat today. While these threats are quite common, the general public is becoming more educated and skeptical of email links and attachments from both strangers and other employees.
Attackers are now moving beyond phishing attempts in emails to send SMS messages and phone calls to gain personal and business information. These are especially malicious because criminals can make their call or message appear to come from a recognized source.
The best way to combat phishing is with team training. Have your employees verify any suspicious message with a system administrator. Train them never to divulge confidential information if contacted by phone. Always have them hang up and call back to verify the authenticity of their contact.
2. More Sophisticated Malware
In addition to the expansion of phishing from emails to SMS messages and VoIP, malware cyber security threats are a growing concern to businesses. Malware and spyware are commonly used to log the keystrokes of a victim’s computer and gain access to passwords or private information. Other forms of malware include Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, which target your system’s online service and render it unusable. This can lead to costly downtime. Other types of malware could lead to the loss or theft of data and information. To prevent further data loss or damage, it’s important to have a disaster recovery plan in place for cyber security threats for your small business or organization.
3. Focused Ransomware Attacks
According to the FBI, more than 4,000 ransomware attacks occur every day. Ransomware is a costly cyber security threat to businesses that can deny employees access to their computer systems, enterprise applications, or data until a ransom is paid. One of the most notable ransomware attacks happened in 2017. The ransomware, called WannaCry, infected the windows computers of Britain’s National Health Service. It then encrypted files and displayed ransom notices demanding $300 in Bitcoin to decrypt the files. While several years have gone by since the WannaCry attack, similar ransomware cyber security threats to businesses continue to find their targets in companies who are unprepared.
4. Increasing Attacks Targeting the Cloud
The massive migration of data and software from on-premise devices and servers to the cloud is creating a larger target for hackers. While cloud service providers protect the infrastructure of their cloud, additional security is often needed to protect business applications and software running on the cloud. Most businesses that are transitioning their data strategy towards the cloud often lose oversight of potential vulnerabilities. Running vulnerability scans across your small business for cyber security threats helps prevent disasters before they happen. NIC uses vulnerability scanning tools to mitigate these threats by finding potential areas in which an attacker could find a backdoor into your systems.
5. Targeting Unsecure Internet of Things (IoT) Devices
With more and more things getting connected to the internet, there are growing cyber security threats to businesses. It is vital that all embedded software and connectivity components be completely secure before going online. Each IoT device should meet proper authentication procedures so that outsiders cannot gain control of the device.
As more companies incorporate connected devices into their operations as a way to generate revenue, the consequences of a cyber security threat to businesses grow. One single attack could turn a company to ruin if operations are shut down for an extended period of time.
6. Malware and Viruses Powered by Machine Learning
Machine learning is a kind of artificial intelligence that empowers programs to learn and improve from prior experiences. Malware with machine learning may automatically try millions of ways to breach a targeted network. Used at scale, many of those attempts will inevitably succeed.
Although still in its infancy, this has tremendous potential in cyber security, both on the defensive and offensive. Expect to see this technology advance significantly in 2020 and come to fruition within the next decade.
For small businesses, cyber security threats are posing new dangers with significant ramifications. Download NIC’s cyber security examination checklist to find out how your company could be at risk and take a proactive stance.
Partnering with NIC to Protect Your Information Systems
Start with consultation services at NIC to learn how you can best prepare for the evolving cyber security landscape. Securing enterprise management systems, operations, and information technologies are growing in importance as hackers begin to use more advanced malicious software. Cyber security threats to businesses are here to stay, so it’s important to have trust in a partner that will ensure your company can stop the latest malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks.
Schedule a free consultation with NIC to see how a partnership could help protect your businesses from the latest threats. Our team of IT consultants are based in Los Angeles and have been serving local and surrounding areas since 2005.