Cyber Attacks Small Businesses Should Look Out For & How to Avoid Them

Cyber attacks against small businesses have been steadily increasing. A cyber attack is when an unauthorized, malicious third-party accesses a computer system and attempts to steal, destroy or tamper with the information stored there.

Many small businesses are at a high risk of cyber attacks, as many do not have the time and resources to put towards cyber security. Cyber attacks can be time-consuming to resolve and can result in significant loss of business income. Although the public’s assumption is often that cyber criminals only prey on large companies, this is actually a myth. Small businesses can be easier targets, and sometimes the sum of many quick wins can outweigh the effort of going after one giant. A business that is small may still handle a substantial amount of money and sensitive information on a day-to-day basis, both of which are very attractive to cyber criminals.

We’ve gathered the top cyberattacks for small businesses to look out for and tips for how to avoid them.

Common Cyber Attacks:

Phishing Attacks

Phishing is when an attacker pretends to be a trusted entity, like a bank or coworker. The victim believes the communications from the attacker are legitimate. When the victim responds back with sensitive information, it can be used to access things like a company’s computer devices or accounts. If the victim clicks a link that was sent to them, it could install malware on a device or obtain private information.

Denial of Service (DOS) Attacks 

This is where a bad actor goes after the computer networks, servers and systems and overwhelms a company’s bandwidth by sending a large amount of traffic. The company’s website then either shuts down or runs extremely slow. During this time, the company’s clients and customers will be unable to access their website.

Password Attacks

These types of attacks are when hackers try to obtain passwords by using a computer program, guessing, or tricking you into providing them. 

Malware Attacks

Malware is malicious software that steals information or corrupts your computer systems, servers or networks. There are many different types of malware, including spyware, ransomware, and viruses.

Spyware Attacks

Spyware is malware that allows a hacker to spy on what you do on your computer. This type of malware can inform a hacker of your passwords and sensitive information.

Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the files on your computer system. You are not able to gain access to your files unless you pay a ransom, which is usually in cryptocurrency. 


Computer viruses hide within programs and files; when they are opened, the virus infects your computer system. Viruses can slow down your computer and corrupt or delete data.

Inside Threats

Sometimes trusted people like employees or vendors are the ones a company needs to watch out for. An inside threat takes place when someone who works with the company provides its passwords, data or other sensitive information to a third party.

How Can Small Businesses Prevent Cyber Attacks?

  1. Change your passwords regularly.
  2. Use strong passwords that include hard-to-guess phrases or a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.
  3. Do not use the same password for everything.
  4. Read through emails carefully and have your guard up if they contain typos or questionable information. Pay attention to logos and branding that don’t match up with the legitimate business the attackers are emulating.
  5. If an email seems suspicious, the sender’s address will often give away whether they are genuine or not.
  6. Revoke system access for employees when they are no longer employed with your company.
  7. Use a firewall, VPN, and other computer security tools. 
  8. Consider purchasing cyber insurance.
  9. Have written cyber security protocols in place, educate your employees on best cyber security practices, and offer them regular refresher training sessions.
  10. Keep your computer systems and applications updated.
  11. Back up your information often.
  12. Do not use public Wi-Fi networks.
  13. Do not open emails from unknown senders.