Online threats have risen to nearly six-times their usual levels recently, as cybercriminals prey on the panic surrounding COVID-19. It’s now more important than ever to protect your business against security threats and attacks.

To help, we’ve put together this guide on the top six security threats facing your business, and how to appropriately shield your business and customers from attack.

Who should protect themselves against security threats?

In one word: everyone. Cybercriminals do not discriminate, meaning that your business is at risk regardless of how many employees you have, how much money you make, or who your customers are.

We could spend the rest of this guide detailing the reasons why you should protect your business against security threats. Instead, here are the four most important:

  • Protecting your business to ensure business continuity.
  • Protecting your brand against negative press and legal action.
  • Protecting your customers from their data being stolen.
  • Protecting your profits from unnecessary expenses.

6 top security threats & how to protect your business

Currently, the six top security threats facing businesses in 2020 are:

1. Hardware and software vulnerabilities

What are they?

Hardware and software vulnerabilities occur when outdated or unpatched software opens your business up to the below-mentioned security threats.

Why are they a threat?

Outdated or unpatched software or hardware means that your systems aren’t protected against current threats or new cybercrime techniques used to infiltrate your systems.

Criminals can access your systems and networks to obtain confidential information, damage your business, and access your customers.

How to protect your business

You can protect your business from hardware and software vulnerabilities by:

  • Using a reputable IT hardware and software distributor, who can advise on the latest versions and deliver security updates and patches.
  • Monitoring your systems and hardware for irregular activity.
  • Regularly patching your systems with the latest security updates.

2. Phishing attacks

What are they?

A phishing attack is when a criminal sends an email pretending to be from a legitimate organization. The email encourages the recipient to click a malicious link, download a malicious file, or provide sensitive and confidential information.

Phishing emails have grown in sophistication over recent years, using company logos, email addresses, and disguised links to become increasingly convincing and successful.

Why are they a threat?

Phishing emails are a huge security threat to your business because they target the human factor, rather than your technology weaknesses. By using familiarity to gain the recipient’s trust, these emails can quickly lead to the unintentional download of a virus or malware, or sharing of financial data or login information.

How to protect your business

The main ways to protect your business against phishing attacks are:

  • Educating your employees about phishing scams and the top things to look out for when receiving an unexpected email.
  • Using a strong email security gateway to prevent phishing emails from reaching your inboxes.
  • Using antivirus software to scan incoming emails and attachments.
  • Reporting any suspicious emails and sharing information with the wider company.

3. Ransomware attacks

What are they?

A ransomware attack uses software to hold your computer or systems hostage until a ransom fee is paid. They are usually a result of clicking a malicious link or downloading an infected email attachment.

Why are they a threat?

Ransomware attacks not only give cybercriminals access to confidential information and systems, but they also prevent your business from operating until you pay the ransom.

Businesses are faced with a decision to either lose all of their data or pay a hefty fee with no guarantee that the criminals will release the information. Ransomware attacks can also have implications for your customer’s data, leading to legal action and fines.

How to protect your business

You can protect your business from ransomware attacks by:

  • Using anti-malware software to regularly scan your network and identify threats.
  • Implementing best practices for employees, including verifying emails and scanning files before downloading.
  • Running regular system and software updates to patch security vulnerabilities.
  • Properly securing and backing up all company and customer data, using two-factor authentication.

4. Malware attacks

What are they?

A malware attack uses worms, viruses, or Trojans to infiltrate your systems without your knowledge. The malware then gains access to personal information or causes damage to the system.

Why are they a threat?

Malware attacks are becoming more sophisticated and can be used to obtain confidential information, disrupt operations, or demand payment – all of which cause significant and lasting business damage.

How to protect your business

You can protect your business from malware attacks by:

  • Using reputable antivirus and anti-malware solutions.
  • Running regular security updates and patches.
  • Securely backing up your files regularly.

5. Internet of Things attacks

What are they?

Internet of Things (IoT) attacks take place on the devices, communication channels, and applications used to run IoT technology in your business.

Why are they a threat?

IoT systems are often quickly deployed without considering security – making them a significant security weakness for your business. Different IoT attacks cause different impacts on your business, such as the theft of confidential information, Denial of Service attacks, and remote audio and video recording.

Depending on how you use IoT systems in your business, these attacks can affect your employees, customers, and operations.

How to protect your business

You can protect your business from IoT attacks by:

  • Ensuring each device has adequate security settings before connecting to your network.
  • Connecting IoT divides to a secondary network.
  • Mapping every piece of data collected within an IoT system and ensuring it is adequately secured.

6. Insider threats

What are they?

Insider threats come from your employees, contractors, and any third parties that have (or have had) access to your data, network, and business premises.

Why are they a threat?

Aside from the obvious threat of rogue insiders having access to confidential data and systems, the biggest danger is carelessness. Those who accidentally compromise your data by forgetting to lock devices, absentmindedly clicking links, or using weak passwords.

How to protect your business

You can significantly reduce insider threats by:

  • Implementing an IT security policy that mandates complex passwords, uses multi-factor authentication, prohibits password sharing, and delivers annual training.
  • Regularly reviewing who has access to different systems, and terminating any unnecessary privileges.
  • Partnering with a reputable IT distribution company.

Final thoughts

Protecting your business against these security threats isn’t an option – it’s a requirement by the law, by your customers, and by your employees.

Protect what matters most to your business by taking action now.