Since the start of March, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the working lives of employees all over the world. In order to contain the virus, millions of workers have been forced into remote working, creating incredibly difficult challenges for business leaders in terms of cyber security. 

In our previous article, we highlighted how there has been a significant increase in cyber attacks since the start of the pandemic – with many ransomware and phishing attacks exploiting weaknesses in remote working. Many of these attacks have affected small businesses.

According to the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2020, small businesses with 1-9 employees were the type of business most likely to be impacted by cyber incidents in the UK. 

 

Why are small businesses facing an increase in cyber threats?

It’s a common misconception that SMEs aren’t targeted as often as larger businesses. Cybercriminals are increasingly automating attacks which means it’s easy for them to target hundreds or even thousands of small businesses at once. 

Often, smaller businesses have less stringent cyber defences. They also typically dedicate a smaller proportion of their IT budget to cyber security, and are generally less aware of possible threats. This makes them particularly vulnerable to attacks. 

 

What threats are small businesses facing in the current climate?

1. Emotet Malware

Emotet is a trojan virus that is spread through emails – it also has the potential to infect devices through websites and other types of media. According to data from HP Inc., these types of attacks have soared by 1200% in the last quarter. 

Emotet emails might contain familiar branding so they look legitimate. They may try and persuade recipients to click on the malicious files by encouraging them to check their ‘Account Settings’, ‘Invoices’ or ‘Payment Details’. 

The emolet malware creates a backdoor for cybercriminals to come in and leak sensitive data from devices and networks. If your business has weak security systems, you could quickly fall victim to this kind of attack. This is why file encryption, advanced firewalls and anti-spam software are all essential components of cyber security

 

2. Weak Passwords

Another significant threat facing small businesses is the usage of weak or easily-guess passwords by employees. Because of the increase in remote working this year, many SMEs use cloud-based services that require different accounts and login credentials. Many will contain sensitive information, and using the same passwords across all of the accounts could lead to this data becoming compromised. 

This type of threat often affects small businesses because of a lack of overall awareness. To ensure that workers are using strong, effective passwords, we recommend using a password manager such as 1Password.

 

3. Ransomware

Ransomware attacks are an increasingly popular method for hackers to get access to quick, easy cash. The ways these attacks work is simple: the cybercriminal takes over and encrypts a device. When the user then tries to access the device, they get a notification to say their system is corrupted and locked. If they want to regain access, they must pay the attacker a ransom.

In recent years, ransomware attacks have become more and more targeted. Hackers can target individual employees, making it an ever increasing threat to small businesses. These criminals also know that SMEs are more likely to pay a ransom because their data is less likely to be backed up, and also because the organisation needs to be back up and running as soon as possible. If this is something that concerns you, our hosted data backup system could be the solution you’ve been looking for. 

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ICT Solutions can help keep your small business safe

While it’s clear that cyber security threats are on the rise, there’s no need to panic. 

At ICT Solutions, we have a range of IT support services that can help keep your business secure, including our comprehensive bronze, silver and gold packages. Get in touch to find out more today.