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Protecting your business against the top cybersecurity threats

Technologie · 19 févr. 2024

“Hi! Your files are encrypted.” 

This is the message that popped up on the screen of an IT manager for a Canadian real estate company after the employee tried opening a file whose extension had been mysteriously changed from the standard “.doc.” A cybercriminal had either exploited a vulnerability in the business’s network or used social engineering (i.e. tricking an employee) to gain illegal access to the company’s digital infrastructure.

That’s step one of a ransomware attack. Step two is either to steal or encrypt as many files, folders, and systems as possible – locking the company out of its own digital assets – and then threaten to delete or publicly post the data unless the business pays the ransom.

Luckily, the employee had recently backed up all company files offline and patched several security vulnerabilities (although likely not all of them). And even though the hacker posted some of the stolen content on the dark web when the company refused to pay, none of the exposed files contained sensitive information. 

In this instance, no sensitive data was leaked, but that doesn't mean it may not be leaked later. If any sensitive data was exfiltrated, there's always a chance it could be posted later, when the event seems to be over. 

Whether a hacker executes a ransomware attack, gains access to your systems and quietly steals company data to sell on the dark web, or simply introduces a malware program to corrupt your business content, a data breach can create enormous damage to your business.

Cybersecurity risks for small and mid-size businesses

Cybersecurity threats are a major concern for smaller businesses as they often lack the resources and expertise to protect themselves from these threats. Businesses handling IT in-house face unique challenges when it comes to cybersecurity. Unlike their larger counterparts, SMBs often operate with limited resources, making them both agile and vulnerable in the intricate web of cyber threats. 

Here are the top four cybersecurity threats that small businesses face and how to protect your people, customers and business.

Malware

Malware is software that’s designed to damage or disrupt the normal functioning of computer systems. It can come in the form of viruses, worms, Trojans, and other malicious programs. In addition to damaging computers, malware can also be used to steal sensitive information, such as login credentials and financial data.

Unfortunately, small businesses are particularly vulnerable to malware attacks due to their lack of resources and often limited IT knowledge and experience. A single attack can cause significant financial losses and damage the company's reputation if customer data is stolen or compromised. The malware can spread quickly throughout a business' entire network if proper security protocols are not followed.

Here are several steps that small businesses can take to protect themselves from malware attacks:

  • Invest in antivirus software

This will help protect against malicious programs by scanning incoming emails and files for viruses or suspicious activity. It will also detect any existing threats on your system, allowing you to take action quickly before any damage is done.

  • Regularly update your operating system

Keeping your operating systems up-to-date with the latest security patches helps prevent attackers from exploiting known vulnerabilities in older versions of the software.

  • Implement password-management guidelines and tools for employees

Weak passwords are one of the most common ways for attackers to gain access into a given system or network so it’s important that all accounts have strong passwords (e.g., containing numbers, symbols, upper/lower case letters). Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) can also help add an extra layer of security beyond a username and password.

  • Educate employees and update training often

As effective as the right cybersecurity solutions can be if implemented and managed properly, their effectiveness can be undercut if your employees unwittingly hand the digital keys over to a clever hacker.

Provide staff with regular training on cybersecurity best practices so they understand how they can help keep your business safe from threats like malware attacks. 

  • Monitor activity

Keeping track of user activity on your networks gives you insight into what’s happening within them so you can spot any suspicious behaviour before it becomes a problem.

Read the guide, Protecting against cyber threats to learn how to safeguard your customers, people and business. 

Ransomware

Ransomware is notably one of the biggest cybersecurity threats that small businesses face today. It’s a type of malware that infects computers, encrypts data, and then demands payment in order to unlock it. A successful ransomware attack can cause massive disruption to business operations and cost valuable time and resources to recover.

The first step in defending against ransomware attacks is understanding how it works. Typically, attackers will use malicious emails or websites as vectors for delivering ransomware payloads onto vulnerable systems. Once installed, the malware will encrypt all data on the system until a ransom payment is made.

The best way for small businesses to protect themselves from these threats is by adopting a comprehensive approach towards cybersecurity that includes up-to-date antivirus software and employee training programs. Regular backups should also be taken so that any lost data can be recovered without paying a ransom. Additionally, organizations should consider using solutions such as sandboxing technologies, which can help detect malicious activity before it infiltrates their systems. This is a type of testing environment that enables users to run programs or open files without affecting their system.

A managed service provider can also help monitor your networks and tools can help detect any suspicious activity on their networks so that steps can be taken swiftly if an attack does occur.

Phishing attacks

Phishing involves malicious hackers pretending to be someone else that sends out fraudulent emails, SMS messages or social media posts designed to deceive people into sharing sensitive information or downloading malware. To protect against these threats, businesses should ensure that their employees are trained in recognizing phishing emails and how to respond appropriately. 

Employees should also be educated on the importance of reporting suspicious emails and never clicking links from unknown senders. Businesses should use anti-phishing software to filter out malicious emails and scan for malicious URLs embedded in messages. 

Cloud jacking

Cloud jacking involves malicious actors or hackers gaining access to cloud-based services and networks, and using them to steal data or gain access to sensitive information. To protect against this threat, small businesses should ensure their cloud systems are regularly updated and patched, use multi-factor authentication for all users, limit the number of people with access to sensitive information, and monitor logs for any suspicious activity.

Businesses should also consider choosing cloud solutions that include encryption technologies such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols when transferring data between different systems. This helps ensure the privacy of the data being transmitted and prevent attackers from accessing it en route.

TELUS Business can help you streamline critical and time-intensive responsibilities like monitoring, maintaining and securing your technology so you can focus on your business. Connect with a managed IT specialist today to learn how we can help with your evolving IT needs.

Auteur:
TELUS Affaires
TELUS Business