Small business owners wear a lot of hats, from CEO to CFO to CIO. However, as business moves increasingly online and cybercriminals up their game, the cybersecurity role is shifting to the forefront for business owners, catching many off guard.
Unfortunately, bad actors take advantage of the fact that small businesses don't have the same means as large enterprises to protect themselves from cyberattacks. Forty-three percent of data breaches target small- and medium-sized businesses, and 80 percent of those organizations don't have the resources to recover should they fall victim to a cyberattack.
A basic knowledge of cybersecurity best practices goes a long way for owners looking to protect their companies from cyberattacks. Although learning about cybersecurity can seem daunting, you don't need to be an expert to help protect your business from security breaches. Even learning the basics of cybersecurity can help you keep your business secure in the digital age.
To jump-start your cyber education, here are the top 10 cybersecurity terms that all small business owners should know.
A botnet is a network of connected devices that have been infected with malware and are under the control of a malicious third party. The third party then uses this group of breached devices to commit crimes and carry out cyberattacks, including DDoS attacks (see term below).
2. CMS (Content Management System)
A content management system (CMS) is software that helps users build a website without advanced technical knowledge. Some of the most popular CMSs are WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal. The downside is that websites built on CMSs are more vulnerable to bad actors. This is largely because CMSs work in conjunction with additional features that may require separate security updates that a novice website builder may not be aware of or know to keep updated.
3. Data Breach
A data breach is a security incident where information such as passwords, email addresses, social security numbers and credit card details are accessed without authorization and often used to commit crimes such as identity theft and fraud.
4. DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service)
A DDoS attack takes place when cybercriminals use a botnet to target and overwhelm a website with requests, which slows or crashes the site so users can't access it. Recovering from a DDoS attack can be extremely expensive for small businesses. In fact, a single DDoS attack costs a small business $120,000 on average.
Malware is malicious software that infects users' computers or devices to take advantage of their data. Once the user's computer is infected, the malware can inflict severe damage, such as stealing sensitive data, logging keystrokes, and corrupting files. Users are often unaware when malware gets downloaded onto their computer or attacks their website which is why installing antivirus software and a web application firewall (WAF) is a must for preventing and detecting malware.
Phishing emails appear in users' inboxes and often appear legitimate, but are actually designed to trick people into handing over sensitive information. This often includes payment details such as credit card and bank account information. Always be wary of unexpected emails that ask you to send payment information electronically.
Ransomware is a type of malware that's most commonly delivered by email attachment. When a user downloads the attachment, the ransomware gets activated and prevents the user from accessing their systems and data. The user is then informed their data will remain encrypted unless they pay their attackers.
An SQL injection (SQLi) inserts malicious code into a web application, often a contact form or other type of input field. Attackers can then breach the application's data contents, sneak into your website's database, or even take control of your website.
9. VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A virtual private network (VPN) is a service that allows users to securely connect to the internet. It encrypts a user's data and transmits it through remote servers so malicious third parties can't intercept browsing data. By using a VPN, you can evade bad actors snooping on public Wi-Fi networks looking to steal your private information.
10. XSS (Cross-Site Scripting)
A cross-site scripting (XSS) attack takes advantage of a website's security vulnerabilities to embed malicious code into one of the site's applications or webpages. In many cases, this code directs visitors to webpages that appear normal but were really set up by bad actors to steal their personal information.
As a small business owner, you need to be a jack of all trades just to keep your business afloat. But the cybersecurity role can be extremely intimidating due to the growing sophistication of cybercriminals.
When it comes to cybersecurity, education is your best defense. If you make an effort to improve your own security knowledge, you can gain the upper hand over bad actors targeting your small business.