Cyberattacks are a problem that targets all businesses, irrespective of size. Identifying them and how your business might be putting itself at risk is essential to mitigating loss.

So, what are the most common attacks? How are businesses putting themselves at risk, and how do you protect yourself?

This article will guide you through future attacks your business will undoubtedly face. You’ll learn how these hacks work and discover simple but effective ways of protecting yourself and your business.

What can make a business vulnerable to a cyberattack?

As more businesses move online, it’s only natural for criminals to follow suit. That’s why the World Economic Forum has placed ‘cybercrime and cyber insecurity’ as one of the top ten risks the world is currently facing.

Below are two of the most common threats to be mindful of:

  1. Phishing attacks

Phishing is when a hacker impersonates a legitimate person or service and quickly builds up a ‘trusting’ relationship with you, only to trick you into doing something out of character. You might be asked to share personal information, grant a person access to sensitive files, click a suspicious link, or download unknown files.

Phishing has become one of the leading methods of hacking in recent years. Statistics have shown that by the end of the fourth quarter of 2022, over 1.35 million phishing sites were detected online, showing the enormous threat it poses.

Businesses can be susceptible to phishing attacks by blindly trusting messages sent by unknown sources without first investigating them. Businesses must check and verify a sender’s identity and avoid clicking or downloading content without first scanning files for malware.

  1. Malware

Malware is malicious software designed to harm or disrupt a device, steal information, or harm users. With over 5.5 billion malware attacks yearly, it has become one of the most dangerous cyberattacks to be mindful of.

While there are many forms, some of the most common malware affecting businesses include:

  • Ransomware: This malware encrypts essential business files, locking people out of their work. The only way to regain access to files is to pay the hacker a large sum of money.
  • Trojans: Disguised as legitimate software, Trojans can perform many unauthorized actions on devices once installed.
  • Spyware: This kind of malware aims to monitor activity and record information about users, including tracking websites, microphones, and webcam activity.
  • Viruses: This malware can replicate itself and spread quickly throughout a business network, causing disruption and damaging/destroying files.

Unfortunately, businesses can be vulnerable to malware in many ways. Like phishing, it can enter your network by opening suspicious file attachments, clicking on or visiting malicious adverts and websites, installing pirated software, connecting infected USB drives, and failing to update their software in a timely manner.

Two simple ways to protect yourself

Despite phishing and malware on the rise, there are some easy ways of protecting yourself and your business from these attacks. You should consider:

1. Using a virtual private network (VPN)

One of the best ways of protecting your business against rising threats is by protecting your internet connection. A VPN is an innovative cybersecurity tool that encrypts connections, preventing anyone from monitoring your online activity and stealing information.

Data sent and received is scrambled, making it impossible for criminals to monitor your online activity. Many VPNs have built-in threat prevention features, like ad-blocking, which can help prevent further infections.

But did you know a VPN can protect all your devices, including your smartphones? That said, certain marketplaces won’t allow you to download official VPN apps, often because their ad-blocking features conflict with terms of service.

A way around this is to download an official VPN APK file from your service provider. Once installed, your smartphone will enjoy all the same protection online as your PC.

2. Training staff in basic cyber hygiene

Research has shown that in 2023, over 74% of data breaches involved a human element, whether it was an error, misuse of software, or falling for a phishing attack.

As such, businesses are only as secure as their employees are and must provide adequate and regular training to ensure everyone knows about rising threats.

Training should include basic cybersecurity principles, such as setting stronger passwords and multi-factor authentication, common ways to identify suspicious phishing messages, updating software, and periodically scanning devices for viruses.

Additionally, businesses must implement a proper incident response plan detailing what employees must do during a suspected cyberattack and who they must report it to.

Finally, businesses should consider conducting penetration tests, which simulate live cyberattacks and test staff reaction skills. These tests can give businesses the confidence to respond effectively in times of crisis and highlight areas in which they might be vulnerable.