Cybersecurity Practices for Small Businesses to Protect Sensitive Data

Cybersecurity Practices for Small Businesses to Protect Sensitive Data
Written by Micah Phillips

Why does a small business require cybersecurity? If you are an SMB owner you’d think that the attackers would pass over your company with the thought of “Nothing much to steal”. Well, it is quite common among owners of relatively small businesses, but it’s an absolutely incorrect mindset to have, aligning with the current cybersecurity practices.

Some General Stats about Cybersecurity & Small Businesses

● Approximately 60% of companies that are classified as SMBs go out of business within six months of a cyber attack.

● 43% of the attacks planned by cybercriminals are against small businesses.

● Out of all SMBs, only 14% of them have confirmed to have the ability to protect themselves from such vulnerable threats and attacks.

● In the year 2016, more than 50% of SMBs were victims of cyberattacks.

● Small Businesses have admitted that they are more concerned about customer data than company data.

Why do Criminals Attack Small Businesses?

New owners often have to tackle all the challenges alone, that come with starting a business who most likely, leave cybersecurity measure bayside to tackle later, Owners trying to tie-up all loose points in other business aspects, might just end up leaving windows open for hackers.

As per Towergate Insurance’s research, businesses underestimate the threats of cybersecurity by saying “we’re not the targets”. They believe that there’s nothing much to steal from their small business.

Stephen Cobb of ESET Antivirus said in an interview that SMB owners ignore the threats. Thus, committing the mistake of falling in their sweet spot. Because small businesses have got more digital assets to target than customer information as compared to big companies.

What are the Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks to Look Out for?

Most cyber criminals aim to fetch sensitive information like credit card number, and with little personal details, hackers can exploit a person’s digital assets and cause monetary cause.

One way to prevent such attacks is to know about them, the methods used by hackers to gain access to the information. The list of cyberattack types is endless, but we’ve listed the ones that as a business person, one must be aware of because cyber threats and hackers are ever-evolving.


It’s the acronym for Denial of Service Attacks. This occurs when a server is purposely overloaded with requests until it shuts down the target’s website.

2. Malware

It’s a collective word for any malicious software/threat induced into a system by means of external hardware or the internet. Some of the common ones are worms, viruses, trojans, and ransomware. They are introduced into the system with the aim to gain access to private and sensitive data. Knowing about this information can help you decide what cybersecurity software you need for your system.

3. Phishing

Probably the most fallen-for attacks. Phishing is a form of infiltrating a device by fraudulent means mainly using communication channels like email. Hackers present the target with lucrative emails and con them into giving sensitive information.

4. Advanced Persistent Threats (APT)

APTs are targeted attacks properly planned and takes a long time. Hackers break into the system in multiple phases to avoid getting detected. Once they’ve established with the target network, they remain silent until connections to control the whole system is attained. The trouble with such attacks is that even if a threat is detected, other routes to carry out the attack are available at disposable.

5. Password Attacks

Password attacks are very common. There are majorly three different password attack types.

● Brute-Force: Guessing passwords until the hacker gets it right. There are software that uses brute force
techniques to unlock using a program that automatically makes attempts to unlock the system.

● Dictionary-based: Automated program that uses all combinations of words that is present in the dictionary.

● Keylogging: This software tracks the user’s keystrokes, including the login credentials.

6. Ransomware

As the name suggests, once it infiltrates the system it locks down the device until you pay the demanded amount. It will threaten to release personal information until the ransom is page. Ransomware is one of the breaches that’ rising among hackers.

7. SQL Injection

Backend developers have been using SQL (Structured Query Language) for more than 40 years. We as users of the internet have hugely benefited from SQL, but it can often be an easy way to infect the system with a small line of code. Through SQL engineers attackers gain access to servers and modify, delete information from databases, and even manipulate user devices in some instances.

What are the Best Practices to Prevent Businesses from Such Attacks?

After knowing about all the possible threats, SMB owners must realize how vulnerable they are from being victims of cyberattacks. The following part of the article provides some useful measures to prevent SMBs from cyberattacks:

1. Use Firewall

A firewall is the first line of defense for all your cybersecurity attacks. The firewall acts as a protecting barrier between data and cyberattackers. Federal Communication channel (FCC has recommended a very business that uses the internet for any form of transaction to ensure that a functioning firewall is installed. For employees working from remote locations must install an internal firewall for their home network

2. Enforce Safe Password Practices

Verizon’s Research on data leaks found 63% of data breach happens due to lost, forgotten or weak passwords. 65% of companies do not enforce their password change policies, with the Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) policies, companies must be extra secure as the employee could be accessing sensitive information from a non-secure open network.

3. Use Anti-Malware Softwares

All it takes for the attacker to infiltrate your system is to make you open a single email. Phishing requires the target to open the email so that malware gets installed in the system, it is vital to have anti-malware software installed on such devices to detect such threats. Phishing attacks are mainly targeted at employers holding higher positions to breach the most sensitive information available.

4. Keep Office Softwares Updated

Employees must be briefed about keeping their software updated, it is important to cybersecurity. Attackers look for vulnerabilities in software, and software update patches fix such loopholes. Not updating software for a long time can make business open to risks of a data breach and theft of digital assets. Hackers can use this information to demand huge ransom amounts from businesses.

5. Train All Employees

At SMBs, cross-functional departments are common and employees may have to wear multiple hats, hence it is essential that all employees are educated on companies’ cybersecurity practices.

● Communicate and make aware of the impacts of cyberattacks.
● Each individual must attain responsibility for cyber protection.
● Customary cybersecurity sessions in your office
● Train the employees on how to respond to attacks from cybercriminals.

Since hackers are becoming savvier, employees are vulnerable and it is vital to hold employees for data breaches due to dodgy practices. All employees should be bound to sign documents informing about policies and the actions taken for disobeying employed practices.

6. Purchase Cybersecurity Insurance Cover

Cybercriminals are upgrading themselves and keeping up with the technology. It goes without saying that all businesses should consider buying cybersecurity insurance to cover themselves from the data loss and misuse caused due to cyberattacks.

There are multiple types of cyber insurance cover, typical first-level insurances cover business from data loss and breach. Third-party insurance offers the individual cover from expenses arising from claims and settlements and the cost of litigation. You can find more information on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

7. Invest in Cybersecurity

Just like how businesses spare funds to invest in different aspects of business, owners should consider investing in cybersecurity as well. As small businesses have more digital assets at stake vulnerable to attackers.

Getting the company’s cybersecurity settings checked by an expert cybersecurity professional regularly is good practice.

8. Employ Multi-Factor Authentication

However careful you might be in doing your activities, it is almost impossible to avoid not committing a single mistake. , it takes only an intern to click a phishing email to start all problems.

It is important to have multi-factor authentication for the access of sensitive information as it adds an additional layer of protection.

9. Backup Up Confidential Information

It is much better to back up, then be sorry for all the data loss. It is recommended to all small businesses to regularly back up information. Business can also keep an offline backup of all data at remote locations in case of data loss due to natural calamity.


Nowadays all businesses need cybersecurity protection, especially small-to-medium businesses as they are attackers’ favorite targets. In today’s time when all hackers and cybercriminals are increasingly becoming more advanced, cybersecurity is essential.

The above-explained measures in regards to cyberattacks must help owners of SMBs to understand its importance and strengthen their protection against cyberattacks. Companies should also keep themselves updated on any new cybersecurity practices.

The best part of implementing cybersecurity measures is that it is not that difficult, and if you’re contemplating the decision of when to implement the practices, then maybe now is the right time.