Identifying a Cybersecurity Attack Is the First Step in Preventing It

As cyberattacks against large businesses usually make the headlines, many believe that small businesses aren’t frequent targets. If you run a small business, don’t let that fool you. Big companies are aware of the risks and invest in good cybersecurity tools. This makes small and medium-sized businesses a more attractive option for hackers, especially since they rarely have a cyberattack response plan.

In this article, we’ll explain how to identify a cyberattack and take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.

How to Identify Cybersecurity Breaches

Before you implement any cybersecurity measure for your business, it’s useful to know what kind of threats are out there. The most obvious tip is to look for anything out of the ordinary, such as changes in your bank statement, unknown transactions, suspicious emails, phone calls asking for personal information, or to change your bank account number. These can all be signs that you’re a hacker’s next target, so make sure that you identify them before the cyberattack takes place.

The most common threat facing your business is ransomware. Hackers use this type of malicious software to encrypt your data so you can’t access it unless you pay them a large sum of money. Most ransomware attacks start with an email, a malicious attachment, or a website that tricks you into downloading and installing malware on your device. Once the ransomware finds and encrypts valuable data, it displays a message demanding money.

In 2021, 65% of ransomware attacks succeeded in locking the victim’s files. In another survey, 51% of businesses admitted that they paid the ransom. However, paying doesn’t guarantee that your data will be restored, and the hacker may attack again if you don’t implement proper security measures.

Another frequent type of cybersecurity threat is the use of stolen credentials. Your username and password can be used to acquire your personal or financial information. This type of threat comes in various forms:

  • A simple brute force attack involves working through all possible combinations to guess your login information. The hacker’s job becomes easier if the same password is reused on several websites, one of which has already been breached.
  • Gaining valuable information is also possible through social engineering techniques such as phishing and pretexting. Both of these practices involve tricking you into providing sensitive information by pretending to be a trusted source. They come in the form of fraudulent emails, text messages, or even calls. In addition, pretexting includes an emotional aspect where the cybercriminal creates a scenario about an urgent matter, so the victim feels compelled to help.

A threat that has become more frequent recently is the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. This is a malicious attempt to flood your server or network with traffic in order to crash it. This way, the normal flow of traffic to your server is disrupted, and you lose revenue as long as the attack lasts. To identify the attack before it becomes critical, check for unusual spikes in traffic, slow site performance for your employees, the same IP addresses sending too many connection requests in a short time period, and 503 unavailable error messages popping up on your screen.

The Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack is when a hacker intercepts communication between two parties and manipulates it for their own gain. Most frequently, MitM targets public networks, routers with default or unchanged passwords, and websites of banks and other financial institutions.

Fortunately, detecting the hacker’s trap can be done in several ways. The easiest method is to look for addresses that seem familiar but actually differ only slightly from those you’re familiar with (e.g., vs. Other signs to look out for include sudden and repeated disconnections, different response times for the same actions, and strange Wi-Fi addresses.

How to Protect Your Business

In order to protect your business, try and avoid becoming the target of cyberattacks. Here are some tips:

  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • Make your password strong, and don’t share or reuse passwords
  • Regularly backup your files offline or on a device that isn’t connected to the computer through a network or otherwise
  • Keep your software and OS updated
  • Use anti-virus software
  • Don’t click on suspicious links included in emails and text messages, and avoid downloading attachments from unknown sources
  • Install a spam filter and report any suspicious emails to your IT provider
  • Double-check emails from your colleagues if they seem suspicious, and inform others at your office about it
  • Be sure to process financial transactions on a device separate from the one you use for other purposes (e.g., social media)
  • Use a firewall to protect your network
  • Contact law enforcement and appropriate authorities


Not Protecting Your Business Costs You

Businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees make up 46% of all cyberattack victims. But only 37% of small business owners are concerned about cyberattacks in the next twelve months. Most of them learn about the ways to protect their business when it’s already too late.

What’s worse, when it comes to small businesses, cyberattacks can lead to a complete loss of work. More than 60% of small businesses end up closing their company in less than six months after a cyberattack. Considering that the average cost of a malware attack for small businesses is around $108,000, that is no surprise. But for companies that have more than 1,000 employees, this cost can go up to $2.4 million. For that reason, it’s important to invest in good cybersecurity insurance.

Find a Reliable IT Service to Improve Your Cybersecurity

If you’re concerned about your business becoming the target of cyberattacks and want to invest in a trustworthy company to provide you with comprehensive IT solutions, look no further. For businesses in Burnsville, Twin Cities, Fargo, Duluth, or the St. Cloud areas, MSI is a great choice. With our email security measures, advanced network protection, user training, and 24/7 service desk, we’re confident that we can help equip your business with the best security measures. Reach out to us today to ensure that your business is fully protected.

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