Research reveals that 68% of small- to medium-sized businesses have no policy to ensure cybersecurity, perhaps due to a belief that they don’t have anything worth stealing. However, the truth is that businesses of all sizes hold valuable data in their hands, and cybercriminals work to create new sophisticated attack methods to acquire this information.
An unfortunate reality for SMBs is that 43% of all cyberattacks target small businesses. Because many small business owners are often busy and strapped for time, cybersecurity might not be a top priority. In order to protect your business, customers, and data, it’s essential you’re aware of the ever-evolving methods cybercriminals use to target SMBs and their customers.
To help you get started, we break down the most common attacks into a simple small business cybersecurity guide for your business. We’ll examine the techniques cybercriminals deploy to target businesses and their customers. Additionally, we’ll outline some of the most common cybersecurity threats and offer steps you can take today to protect your website from cyberattacks in the future.
The Changing Cyberthreat Landscape
In our 2019 report covering website security, we analyzed the current online threat landscape to discern how it might change in the future. Over time, we predict a decrease in “noisy” attacks such as SEO spam and redirects: As malware scanners and website developers advance their techniques, these types of attacks are easier to detect and remove. Likewise, as user awareness grows, cybercriminals are also moving away from noisy attacks. However, SMB websites won’t face less risk — they’ll actually face different types of threats as cybercriminals adapt their methods.
The reality small businesses must face is that bad actors aren’t slowing down. Instead, they’re adapting and implementing new tools and stealthier techniques to achieve their objectives. Stealthy attacks are far less noticeable than noisy attacks; they’re unlikely to be noticed or remedied quickly, making them far more dangerous to website owners. For example, an attack on a website’s database to exploit sensitive data is considered stealthy — it’s unlikely that website owners will easily discover or quickly correct it, and this often leads to greater profits for cybercriminals. This makes stealthy attacks incredibly popular in the cybercrime community. Although these attacks take longer to execute, the fact that they’re more likely to go unnoticed for longer makes them a significant threat to businesses.
Cybercriminals won’t become complacent, and that means you shouldn’t, either. Read through this small business cybersecurity guide to learn how you can defend your business against the most common cybersecurity threats.
Noisy Cybersecurity Risks for SMBs
Although we’ll see a decrease in noisy attacks in the future, they’re not likely to go away. It’s important for SMBs to be knowledgeable about noisy attacks because cybercriminals still use them frequently. The good news is that noisy attacks are typically much easier to spot. Here are a few to look out for:
Stealthy Cybersecurity Risks for SMBs
An increase in stealthy cybercrime means SMB website owners must educate themselves and take proactive measures to guard against these types of attacks. Once they happen, you might be unaware that your website has fallen victim to an attack until significant damage is already done. To help protect your site, here are some of the most common stealthy cybersecurity threats to be aware of:
How to Protect Your SMB’s Website from the Most Common Cybersecurity Threats
New attacks emerge constantly, and the overview above should help protect you from the most common cybersecurity threats. If you follow basic cybersecurity best practices and address everything in this small business cybersecurity guide, you’ll significantly reduce cybersecurity risk for your SMB. Start with these four tips:
1. Install security patches and updates regularly. Many SMBs rely on CMS applications such as WordPress and other plugins to create and maintain their websites. If you host your website on a CMS, be sure to install security patches as soon as developers release them, and update your software when new versions launch. A more complex website means a larger attack surface for cybercriminals, so only choose plugins that you absolutely need to deliver a great site experience for your visitors. Out-of-date CMS components often contain unpatched security vulnerabilities, so update them often and remove any that haven’t been used or updated within the last three months.
2. Sanitize input fields. It’s crucial to be diligent about guarding the input fields on your website; these are critical entry points for cybercriminals. You can sanitize these fields by restricting input characters. For example, if you ask visitors to type in their phone numbers, the input field should only allow numbers, dashes, and parentheses. By only allowing these predetermined characters, small businesses can help prevent cybercriminals from deploying modified queries within their database.
3. Install an automated scanner. To help secure your website, installing an automated website scanner offers comprehensive protection for your site files by detecting (and automatically removing) malware that could cause severe or permanent damage. Ultimately, the scanner should also have the capability to patch outdated security vulnerabilities found in CMS core files, ecommerce platforms, and popular plugins. These types of scanners reduce time by quickly identifying and removing threats so you can focus on your other business objectives.
4. Implement a web application firewall. To stop malicious bots and cybercriminals from ever accessing your website in the first place, install a WAF to be your website’s gatekeeper. This filters your traffic to keep bad players out while still allowing good traffic. As cyberattacks become more advanced, it’s important to ensure that your WAF provider protects against both the latest and most common cybersecurity threats.
A cyberattack can be devastating to an SMB owner, and cybercriminals are increasingly targeting businesses with limited budgets and time. Fortunately, you can take relatively simple steps and implement a comprehensive security solution to protect your website — and your customers — from the most common cybersecurity threats. This will save you time and money in the long run.
Monique Becenti is a product and channel marketing specialist at SiteLock, a cloud-based website security provider currently protecting more than 16 million websites globally. Monique is passionate about improving the customer experience for all. SiteLock’s combination of dedicated research and developmental efforts, aggressive product road maps, and access to a massive global data set make the company a leading innovator in web security.