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Cyber Security Vulnerabilities in Small Businesses
Whatever size your business, cyber criminals love to find flaws in your systems to exploit. In fact, small businesses are usually more at risk because they generally don’t have the time, staff and resources of a larger company. Unfortunately, cyber criminals are well aware of this susceptibility. Your network, operating system, processes and even (especially!) you and your employees all have potential vulnerabilities that can be taken advantage of and used, often for monetary gain, at the expense of your small business.
Being aware of potential vulnerabilities is key to thwarting an attack. To be clear, these are weaknesses that potentially exist within your own system that could be used against you. The bright side? This means you have the power to seek out and fix these flaws before someone else finds them first. Let’s take a look at the four main areas for potential vulnerabilities.
Network Vulnerabilities are issues with hardware or software that could attract an intruder. Examples include outdated or unpatched software applications, insecure Wi-fi access points and poorly configured firewalls.
Operating System (OS) Vulnerabilities are exposures within an OS that criminals can use to create havoc or cause damage. Examples include default superuser accounts and hidden backdoor programs.
Process Vulnerabilities are when procedures are supposed to act as security, but in reality are insufficient. Common ones are weak passwords and utilizing only single factor authentication.
Human Vulnerabilities are our own missteps, which are incredibly common. User errors often involve opening infected links and not installing software updates on mobile devices in a timely manner.
Left unchecked, any of these vulnerabilities can be discovered and exploited by cyber criminals, resulting in an actual attack. Today, this usually means malware attacks (ransomware, viruses, spyware, etc.), social engineering attacks (phishing, pharming, spam, etc} and password hacking. While attacks are usually for monetary gain, they often not only result in loss of assets, but can weaken an organization’s reputation, damage the trust of your clients, and ultimately lead to loss of customers or even your entire business.
There is no way to have a completely vulnerable-free system as our technology landscape is ever growing, changing and connecting, but there are certainly ways to lessen risk. Luckily some of the vulnerabilities above can certainly be addressed easily within your own organization (stronger passwords, people!). That being said, a risk assessment performed by cyber security experts is still your best bet for finding and removing vulnerabilities, before someone else finds them first.