Cyber security lock
Lack of awareness is one of the biggest threats to small business security. — Getty Images/MF3d

Cybersecurity threats are a worry for businesses of all sizes but small companies are particularly vulnerable. One incident could put you out of business. To protect your company from attack, here are three cybersecurity threats you should be preparing for now.

Ransomware attacks

Ransomware attacks continue to be one of the top threats most small businesses face. In a ransomware attack, hackers access your data and hold it hostage until you pay some type of ransom. This means business owners have to choose between losing their data or paying a hefty ransom.

WannaCry ransomware is one of the most well-known ransomware attacks. This type of ransomware is usually delivered through phishing emails that appear legitimate at first glance.

The email usually includes an attachment containing malicious code and once it’s run, your PC is infected with malware. This threat first hit in May 2017.

The Small Business Administration recommends a few ways businesses can protect themselves against ransomware:

  • Verify web addresses before downloading email attachments
  • Don’t give out personal information about your company to unsolicited callers
  • Don’t give out financial information about your company over email

In a ransomware attack, hackers access your data and hold it hostage until you pay some type of ransom.

Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks

A couple of years ago, a flaw in a mobile banking app left thousands of customers vulnerable to having their usernames and passwords stolen by hackers. This company was unprepared to protect its customers against man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks.

A MITM attack happens when hackers intercept and possibly alter incoming traffic. The hacker sends the traffic on to the intended recipient, only that person doesn’t realize someone has read or altered their traffic.

MITM attacks allow hackers to redirect the victim’s browser to a malicious website and where they can steal and even change sensitive information.

Public wi-fi networks are often used for MITM attacks because the router doesn’t verify its identity. Hackers will also sometimes gain access to your computer through malware or your web server.

The best way to combat MITM attacks is by using some type of endpoint authentication to make it harder for hackers to intercept traffic. For instance, passwords are becoming increasingly unreliable so two-factor identification methods offer an added layer of security.

Lack of awareness

Ultimately, the biggest threat facing most businesses is their lack of awareness regarding cybersecurity.

After all, 90% of all cyber-attacks are the result of human error. Successful cyber-attacks occur because hackers are counting on employees to make a mistake and give them access to sensitive information.

This can happen in a number of different ways. One of your employees could accidentally leave their laptop in an unsecured location. Or an employee could send sensitive company information to an unintended recipient.

And this problem is compounded by the fact that many businesses aren’t training their employees on how to manage cybersecurity threats. For example, 58% of businesses are concerned about cyber-attacks but 51% allocate no resources toward protecting themselves against these threats.

If you want to protect your business, one of the best ways to do this is by training employees on the following cybersecurity best practices:

  • How to select strong passwords and how often these passwords should be changed
  • Make sure employees know that they should never install unauthorized software
  • How to stay safe online and on social media
  • Strategies for responsible email usage
  • How to keep their devices secure while they’re at the office and away
  • What to do in the event of a cyber attack

CO— does not review or recommend products or services. For more information on choosing the best antivirus software, visit our friends at

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Brought to you by
Simplify your startup’s finances with Mercury
Navigating the complex finances of a growing startup can be daunting. Mercury’s VP of Finance shares the seven areas to focus on, from day-to-day operations to measuring performance, and more.
Learn More