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Common Cybersecurity Threats to Small Business

Common Cybersecurity Threats to Small Business

Here are more common cybersecurity threats to small business, how they work, and how you can prevent them.

Data Collection and Exfiltration

The objective of this form of attack is to capture information that might be used by the hacker or resold to others working on the dark web. Information is obtained through hacking digital resources that are have your information on them, including accounts on e-commerce websites, online portals for insurance accounts and customer databases at commercial retail stores and restaurants to name a few. Data might include passwords, social security numbers, credit card access information, banking accounts, or other sensitive records from customers or employees. The initial attack can erode customer trust or create bad morale, but the situation can worsen if buyers on the dark web use the data to inflict further damage.


Malware, short for malicious software, is any program or file that is harmful to a device and its user. Here are a few examples:


This method of attack has been around almost as long as the digital age. The first virus was planted on an Apple II computer in 1982. Viruses are a form of malware that self-replicates once it’s in a computer or network. When activated, the bad code steals sensitive data, launches denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, or, at the very least, causes severe system slowdown.


These bad actors are another form of malware. While a virus gets into your system by the accidental actions of individuals, such as by opening a suspicious email attachment, worms are created to take advantage of vulnerabilities written into the code of legitimate software. A hacker discovers the security flaw and uses it to launch malware that “worms” its way into a computer or network.

Trojan Horses

A trojan horse is a program that appears harmless but is malicious in intent. The damage is done when the software is downloaded and introduced into your company’s network.

Password Breaches

Network users aren’t always careful about selecting passwords that can’t be broken easily. If forced to select a more complex password, they might write it down and leave it where it can be easily accessed. Once a password has been compromised, significant system damage can occur. That’s why many companies today use password managers – a technology that encrypts a user’s master password in a way that makes it difficult to hack or otherwise compromise.

Insider Threats

Insider threats are risks caused by the actions of employees, former employees or third-party contractors. Through either malicious intent or ignorance, these users can wreak havoc on your business by exposing your data publicly, subjecting you to ransomware attacks, deleting and destroying critical files and systems and more. Six out of 10 data breaches in 2020 came from insiders.

Endpoint-delivered Attacks

These are attacks on any endpoint, which includes on-premises workstations, on-premises servers, virtual servers and mobile devices (laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.).

Man-in-the-middle (MitM) Attacks

Also known as eavesdropping attacks, MitM attacks occur when bad actors insert themselves in between two-party transactions to interrupt traffic and steal data. These are commonly found on unsecured public Wi-Fi networks and are why most cybersecurity providers recommend installing virtual private networks (VPNs) on mobile devices.

Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks

DoS attacks oversaturate your systems, servers and networks with traffic to drain resources and bandwidth so systems can’t fulfill legitimate requests from your staff.

Structured Query Language (SQL) Injections

Structured Query Language (SQL) injections happen when malicious code is inserted into a server that uses SQL. The code then forces the server to display information it would normally keep hidden. These types of attacks could be carried out by submitting the malicious code into a website’s search box.

Zero-day Exploits

Zero-day exploits occur after a network vulnerability is announced but before a patch or solution is implemented. Attackers go after the vulnerability during the window of time that the network is unprotected.

DNS Tunneling

Domain Name System (DNS) tunneling uses DNS protocol to communicate non-DNS traffic over port 53. HTTP and protocol traffic will be routed over the DNS. This can be used to disguise outbound traffic as DNS, concealing data that would alert the network that an external user is connected and exfiltrating data.

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