What Small Business Owners Should Know about Cybersecurity Risks

What small business owners should know about cybersecurity risks

Cybersecurity threats aren’t just for large corporations: Many small- or medium-sized businesses also experience data breaches. As a result, small businesses tend to experience significant and expensive downtime after an attack. Unfortunately, when a small business experiences a security breach, it may not be able to bounce back as quickly as a larger organization. With smaller, leaner budgets, small businesses often don’t have the resources to pour into a quick recovery. 

But small business owners can take precautions to protect their companies, their employees, customers, and digital infrastructure.

Why Hackers Target Small Businesses

Small businesses may not have the robust protection that many larger corporations have, making them an attractive target for hackers. Instead of risking exposure while going up against deep in-house cybersecurity teams or well-funded security operation centers (SOCs), hackers may home in on smaller businesses, knowing many don’t have the resources a comprehensive defense requires.

The lure of sensitive information

Small businesses, despite only having a handful of employees, often have large storehouses of sensitive information, particularly customers’ financial info which may include the following.

  • Credit card numbers
  • Bank account information
  • Credit history

In addition, small businesses often keep databases of personally identifiable information (PII) of both members of their company and clients and customers, such as the following.

  • Full names and addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Usernames and passwords for email accounts
  • Login credentials for internal applications and networks

If a hacker can penetrate a small business’s network, they can collect a bevy of information they could use for fraud or sell to other malicious actors.

Possible Cybersecurity Threats to Watch Out For

While there are many different tools and tactics hackers use to breach small businesses, some are more commonly used than others. Some of the top threats small businesses should be on the lookout for include social engineering, phishing, viruses, and malware.

Social engineering

Social engineering refers to when a hacker tries to manipulate someone into revealing sensitive information by pretending to be a person or organization the target can trust. Attackers often use the following scare tactics.

  • Pretexting. This is when an attacker makes the target feel compelled to reveal sensitive information. They may pretend to be a law enforcement official, auditor, security company, or employee from a social network trying to help the victim “secure” their account.
  • Baiting. Baiting involves the hacker trying to lure their target in using a free giveaway or unbelievable deal.
  • Quid pro quo. Quid pro quo means “something for something” in Latin. In a quid pro quo attack, the hacker may pretend to be someone from an IT department and say, “I have a solution for your problem. I just need your login information to move forward.”


Phishing is when an attacker sends an email in which they pretend to be someone else. In some cases, phishing is used as a form of social engineering. In a phishing attack, the malicious actor may try to get the victim to click on a link with malware or go to a fake site and enter login credentials for a portal within the organization’s network or a financial account.


Malware is a general term that encompasses several types of attacks.

  • Viruses, which spread from one computer to another. Hackers may use a small business to spread viruses into the network of a larger business they do business with.
  • Ransomware, which involves an attacker taking control of computers and demanding payment before returning control to the business.
  • Worms, which are viruses that self-replicate on one system while spreading copies of themselves to other computers.

How to Protect Your Small Business from Cybersecurity Threats

There’s a lot you can do to protect your small business from cyber threats, including backing up data, encrypting important information, using a firewall, and getting business insurance.

Back up your data

With a data backup, you can recover from even the most catastrophic attacks within hours or even minutes. To protect your business, backups should be:

  • Performed regularly
  • Focus on the most business-critical systems
  • Leverage redundancy, perhaps by having one backup system on-site and one in the cloud

Encrypt important information

Encryption makes it impossible for anyone without the decryption key to read information. Encrypting sensitive info protects it even if an attacker is able to steal it.

Use a firewall

A firewall filters out data coming into your network that may contain threats. Next-generation firewalls can also use machine learning to identify zero-day threats, which are those that haven’t yet been identified and profiled.

Cyber insurance

With a custom-designed cyber insurance policy, you can protect your business from the impacts of a breach. You can be protected if hackers successfully steal the following information.

  • Customer information
  • Credit card numbers
  • Social security numbers
  • Account numbers
  • Health records
  • Driver’s license numbers

You also get financial support for these necessary steps.

  • Letting customers know about a breach
  • Recovering data
  • Fixing computers and network components
  • Restoring customers’ personal identities

Business Insurance for Cyber Peace of Mind

Despite the prevalence of cyber threats to small businesses, you can get ahead of the danger by taking the steps above and having the right business insurance policy. Reach out to your local trustedchoice.com agent to learn more about your insurance options. They’re there to support you, answer all of your questions, and ensure that you get coverage for your side hustle on all of the fronts needed. If you don’t have one, you can find an independent insurance agent today.

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