Small Business Cybersecurity Threats, Explained

Small Business Cybersecurity Threats, ExplainedDid you know that small businesses are more prone to cybersecurity threats? They are an easy target for many reasons, including a lack of sophisticated IT support and the time it takes to really keep a business protected from a cyberattack. Small businesses also tend to have a lot of the customer data that bad actors crave.

We don’t need to dwell on the fact that the coronavirus is still surging across the globe, but it is worth noting the increase in digital demand the pandemic has created. With scores of new folks turning to online shopping for the very first time (including many older consumers, who are more susceptible to cyber crimes than other age groups), the internet is a hot bed for criminal activity. Today, we’ll discuss some of the most common types of cybersecurity threats to small businesses—plus how you can work to keep your business protected.


Aptly titled for their ability to spread across devices, viruses are one of the top cyberattacks small businesses see. Viruses can also replicate themselves, making them even more dangerous and hard to control. Viruses are pieces of computer code that attach themselves to the code within programs on your computer. They can lie in wait until an action is taken on your part to execute it. There are many types of viruses: some are designed to wipe your data, steal your passwords, or get unfettered access to your customers’ financial information.


Malicious software, or malware, is a sort-of catchall phrase that includes viruses, ransomware, spyware, etc. Microsoft defines it as “any software designed to cause damage to a single computer, server, or computer network, whether it’s a virus, spyware, et al.” Spam emails are the most common type of malware.

Phishing defines this type of cyberattack as a crime that includes someone posing as a real company or institution; contacting a target via email, phone, or text; and gaining access to highly sensitive information, like banking details and passwords. By pretending to be a trusted source, the attacker has a very good shot at getting the information they desire. Phishing is becoming more and more complex and unique, to be sure. And it also increases a lot during crisis times like we’re in today, when people are seeking out information from external sources about how to handle the pandemic, etc.

It Pays to Protect

To protect your computer from unwanted cyberattacks, it’s critical to invest in an antivirus software such as Norton and keep it updated. It’s also suggested not to download anything suspicious or click on pop-up ads, and keep your customers’ sensitive information safe by following best practices for secure payment processing.

Using strong passwords is another no-brainer. According to the Small Business Association (SBA), a strong password contains 10 or more characters, and at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one number, and one special character. All of your accounts should have a different, highly secure password.

And finally, back up your data on a regular basis and store it on either an external drive, or the cloud. There is a great resource from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that was designed to help small businesses with less resources plan a strategy around cybersecurity. You can create your plan here.

In these modern times, it’s more critical than ever to shield your business and customers from digital crime. Follow these steps to start down the path of protection—and keep your eye out for more small business content from ARF Financial.