Cybercriminals are inventive and their attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated. To help ensure you are prepared and can defend your business against these attacks, we have listed the top 10 cybersecurity threats your business is likely to face, along with some tips to help you prevent a costly data breach.
Cybercriminals are not just trying to attack large enterprises. Sure, a cyberattack on a large healthcare system or blue-chip company can be incredibly rewarding, but the defenses they have in place make attacks very difficult. SMBs on the other hand have far fewer resources to devote to cybersecurity and as a result they are easier to attack. The potential rewards may not be as great, but attacks are more likely to succeed which means a better return on effort. That is why so many SMBs are now being attacked.
There is a myriad of ways that a company can be attacked, and the tactics, techniques and procedures used by cybercriminals are constantly changing. The top 10 cybersecurity threats listed below include the main attack vectors that need to be blocked and will serve as a good starting point on which you can build a robust cybersecurity program.
Top 10 Cybersecurity Threats Faced by SMBs
We have listed the top 10 cybersecurity threats that SMBs need to defend against. All the threats listed below need to be addressed as any one of them could easily result in a costly data breach, data loss, or could cripple your business. Some of the threats listed below will be harder to address than others, and it will take time for your cybersecurity defenses to mature. The important thing is to start the ball rolling and address as many of these areas as soon as possible.
Human Error and Insider Threats
We have listed human error first, as it doesn’t matter what hardware and software solutions you implement, human error can easily undo much of your good work. Mistakes will be made by employees on occasion. What you need to do is reduce the potential for errors and limit the harm that can be caused.
Developing robust policies and procedures and providing training will help to ensure that your employees know how to act and more importantly, how not to.
Mistakes are not the only thing you need to take steps to try to prevent. There may also be individuals on your payroll who will take advantage of poor security for personal gain. You will also need to tackle the problem of insider threats and make it harder for rogue employees to cause harm and steal data. The measures listed below will help address threats from within and reduce risk.
- Enforce the use of strong passwords but make it easier for your employees to remember them so they don’t try to circumvent your password policy or, heaven forbid, write their passwords down. Implement a password manager to store their passwords so they only have one password or pass phrase to remember.
- Rule of Least Privilege
- It is obvious, but often overlooked. Don’t give employees access to resources they do not need for their day-to-day work duties. If their credentials are compromised, this will limit the harm caused. It will also limit the harm that can be caused by rogue employees.
- Block the Use of USB Devices
- USB devices make it easy for rogue employees to steal data and for malware to be accidentally or deliberately be introduced. Implement technical controls to prevent USB devices from being connected, and if they are required for work purposes only give permission to certain individuals to use them. Ideally, use more secure methods of transferring or storing data.
- Monitor Employee Activity
- If rogue employees are stealing data, you are only likely to find out if you are monitoring their computer activity. Similarly, if credentials are compromised, system logs will highlight any suspicious activity. Make sure logs are created and monitored. Consider using a security information and event management (SIEM) solution to automate this as much as possible.
- Terminate Access at Point of Termination
- Terminating an employee? Terminate their access to your systems at the point of termination. It is surprising how often employee access rights are not terminated for days, weeks, or even months after an employee has left the company.
We will cover some more important safeguards to implement to protect against user error in the following 9 SMB cybersecurity threats.
Phishing and Social Engineering Attacks
Phishing is arguably the biggest cybersecurity threat faced by SMBs. Phishing is the use of social engineering techniques to persuade people to divulge sensitive information or take an action such as installing malware or ransomware. This is most commonly achieved via email, but can also occur via text messages, social media websites, or over the telephone.
Do not assume that your employees have common sense and know not to open email attachments from unknown individuals or respond to enticing offers from legal representatives of Nigerian princes. You must train your employees and teach cybersecurity best practices and show them how to identify phishing emails. Refresher training should be provided at regular intervals and you should conduct phishing simulation exercises (which can largely be automated) to find out who has taken the training on board and who is a liability that needs further training.
Employees are the last line of defense. You need a layer of security above your employees to make sure their security awareness training is never required. That means an advanced anti-spam/anti-phishing solution needs to be in place to block threats before they reach inboxes. If you use Office 365, you should still implement an antispam solution. A recent study by Avanan revealed 25% of phishing emails bypass Office 365 antispam defenses.
Another layer of protection should also be implemented to protect against phishing: Multi-factor authentication. This is the use of an additional authentication factor that will kick into action if an attempt is made to use credentials from an untrusted device or location. If credentials are compromised in a phishing attack, multi-factor authentication should stop them from being used to gain access to email accounts, computers, or network resources.
Malware and Ransomware
Malware, viruses, ransomware, spyware, Trojans, worms, botnets, and cryptocurrency miners are all serious threats that you must take steps to block. It goes without saying, but we will say it none the less, you need to have antivirus software installed on all endpoints and your servers.
Malware can be installed in many ways. As previously mentioned, blocking USB devices is important and spam filtering software with sandboxing will protect you from email-based attacks. Most malware infections now occur via the internet, so a web filtering solution is also important. This will also add an extra layer to your phishing defenses. A web filter will block drive-by malware downloads, prevent employees from visiting malicious sites (including phishing websites) and also allows you to enforce your internet usage policies. A DNS filtering solution is the best choice. All filtering takes place in the cloud before any content is downloaded and it will not add to your patching burden.
Shadow IT – The term given for any hardware or software in use that has not been authorized by your IT department. This could be a portable storage device such as a zip drive, a VPN client to bypass your web filter, an application to help with work tasks, or all manner of other software. It is surprising to find exactly how many of these programs are installed on users’ devices when IT support staff are called upon to sort out a problem!
So, what is the problem? Anything installed without authorization is a potential security and compliance risk. Your security team has no control over patching, and vulnerabilities in those applications could easily go addressed for months and give hackers an easy entry point into your network. Fake applications could be downloaded that are really malware, software packages often include a host of potentially unwanted programs and spyware, and any data stored in these applications could be transmitted to unsecure locations. Those applications and data contained therein are also unlikely to be backed up by the IT department. If anything happens, data can easily be lost.
The importance of prompt patching cannot be understated. Vulnerabilities exist in all software solutions. Sooner or later those vulnerabilities will be found, and exploits will be developed to take advantage. Security researchers are constantly looking for flaws that could potentially be exploited by threat actors to gain access to sensitive information, install malware, or remotely execute code. When these flaws are identified and patches are released, they need to be applied promptly. Oftentimes, vulnerabilities are being actively exploited by the time a patch is released. It is essential for these vulnerabilities to be addressed as soon as possible and for all software to be kept up to date.
When software or operating systems are approaching end of life, you must upgrade. When patches stop being issued and software is unsupported, any vulnerabilities will remain unaddressed and can easily be exploited.
Out of Date Hardware
Not all vulnerabilities come from out of date software. The hardware you use can also introduce risks. You must keep an inventory of all your hardware, so nothing slips through the cracks. Firmware updates should be applied as soon as it is made available and you should monitor for any devices that are approaching end of life. If your devices do not support the latest operating systems, then it is time to replace your hardware. This will naturally come at a cost, but so do cyberattacks and data breaches.
Unsecured IoT Devices
The Internet-of-Things offers convenience but IoT devices are a potential liability. IoT devices can send, store or transmit data so they must be be secured.
Unfortunately, in the hurry to connect everything to the internet device manufacturers often overlook security as do users of these devices. Take security cameras for instance. You may be able to access your cameras remotely, but you may not be the only person who can. If your security cameras are hacked, thieves could see what you have, where it is located, and where and when security is lax. There have been cases of security cameras being hacked due to the failure to change default credentials for remote management.
Ensure you change the default credentials on the devices and use strong passwords. Keep the devices up to date, and if the devices need to connect the network, make sure they are isolated from other resources. Cybercriminals can also take advantage of flaws in the applications to which these IoT devices connect. They must also be kept up to date.
Man-in-the-Middle Attacks and Public Wi-Fi
A man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack is an attack scenario where communications between two individuals (or one individual and a website or network) are intercepted and potentially altered. An employee may believe they are communicating securely, when everything they are saying or doing is being seen or recorded. An attacker could even control the conversation between two people and be communicating with each separately while both individuals believe they are communicating with each other. This method of attack most commonly occurs through unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots or evil twin hotspots – Fake Wi-Fi hotspots set up in coffee shops, airports, and any other location where free Wi-Fi is offered.
If you have remote workers, you need to take steps to ensure that all communications are kept private. This can be achieved in two main ways. By making sure employees use a secure VPN that encrypts their communications over public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks and also by implementing a DNS filtering solution. The DNS filtering solution provides the same protection for remote workers as it does for on-premises workers and will prevent malware downloads and employees from accessing malicious websites.
Mobile Security Threats
There is no denying the convenience of mobile devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones). They allow workers to be instantly contacted and lets them work from any location. Mobile devices improve employee mobility, can lead to greater employee satisfaction, and will help you to boost productivity. However, the devices also introduce new risks. Whether you supply these devices or operate a BYOD policy, you need to implement a range of security controls to ensure those risks are managed.
You need to make sure you know of every device that you allow to connect to the network. A mobile device security solution can help you gain visibility into mobile device use and allow you to control your applications and data.
You should ensure the devices have security controls applied, can only access your network via secure channels (VPN), ensure the devices are covered by a DNS filtering solution, and any work data stored on the devices needs to be encrypted.
Remote Desktop Protocol
Remote desktop protocol (RDP) allows employees remotely connect to your computers and servers when they are not in the office and lets your managed service provider quickly sort out your problems and maintain your systems without having to pay a visit. RDP also gives hackers an easy way to gain access your computers, servers, and steal data or install malware. Do you need RDP enabled? If not, disable it. Does it need to be used internally only? Make sure that RDP is not exposed to the internet.
If you do need RDP, then you need to exercise extreme caution. Make sure that users can only connect via a VPN or set firewall rules. Limit the individuals who have permissions to use RDP, ensure strong passwords are set, and that rate limiting is implemented to protect against brute force attacks. Also use multi-factor authentication.
Stolen RDP credentials are often used by hackers to gain access to systems, brute force attempts are often conducted, and vulnerabilities in RDP that have not been patched are frequently exploited. This is one of the main ways that ransomware is installed.
These are just the top 10 cybersecurity threats faced by SMBs. There are many more risks that need to be identified and mitigated to ensure you are protected. However, by addressing the above issues you will have already made it much harder for hackers and cybercriminals to do your business harm.
TitanHQ is Here to Help!
TitanHQ can assist by providing you with advanced cybersecurity solutions to protect against several of the above listed top 10 cybersecurity threats and will the two most commonly used attack vectors – email and the web-based attacks. These solutions – SpamTitan and WebTitan – are 100% cloud based, easy to implement and maintain, and will provide superior protection against malware, ransomware, viruses, botnets, and phishing attacks.
Further, these powerful solutions are affordable for SMBs. You are likely to be surprised to find out how little these enterprise-grade security solutions will cost. If you are a managed service provider that services the SMB market, you should also get in touch. SpamTitan and WebTitan have been developed by MSPs for MSPs. There is a host of reasons why TitanHQ is the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions to MSPs that service the SMB market!
Contact our friendly (and non-pushy) sales team today to find out more, book a product demo, and register for a free trial.