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Most Common Types Of Cybersecurity Attack On Small Businesses

Most Common Types Of Cybersecurity Attack On Small Businesses
Most Common Types Of Cybersecurity Attack On Small Businesses

In our 2021 blog, “Too Small To Be A Target Of Cybercrime? Think Again…” we wrote about the increase of cyberattacks on small businesses during 2020.  Unfortunately, the increase has continued, and small businesses are still falling victim to sophisticated cyberattacks. Despite this, in the cyber security breaches survey 2023, it was found, that for micro businesses, the priority of cyber security has actually decreased. Concerns about inflation and economic uncertainty are thought to be the main drivers behind the decrease.

There is also a common misconception that small and micro businesses are less likely to be targeted by cyber criminals. Reports of ransomware attacks on large businesses can lead people to think that only big companies, with a lot to lose, are at risk. Regrettably, that is not the case. Cybercriminals, aka Threat Actors, do not target large companies just because of the assets they have; if they can extort money or steal data from a small company, they will. There are more to cyberattacks than ransomware attacks, and the easier the target the better. A small business with little or no cyber protection, is an easy, vulnerable target.

In this blog we’re going to explore the most common types of cyberattack that are targeted at small businesses. We will also recommend a few basic steps you can take to reduce the chances of experiencing a cyberattack.


What are malware attacks?

Malware attacks involve gaining access to, or damaging, a device by getting the target to download or install malicious software onto it.

Attacks using malware can happen in a few different ways with ransomware, trojan horses and viruses among the more well known. A lot of the time, malware is introduced to a device due to another kind of cyber attack known as social engineering. Once inside a system, malware can steal, encrypt or destroy data, or give access to attackers.

When malware encrypts data or removes it from the system, threat actors can hold that data to ransom, asking for money or other demands, for the victims to get it back. This is ransomware and companies are discouraged from giving in to the demands as there is no guarantee they will get what was taken, back.  

Trojan horses are usually malware disguised as something legitimate like a software update that, once installed, gives the hacker access to the system.

When a virus is introduced through a cyberattack, the goal is usually to destroy the data on the systems, without hope of recovery.


How do social engineering cyberattacks work?

A social engineering style cyberattack manipulates individuals or employees through deception, persuasion, or impersonation to gain access to confidential information or systems. Phishing scams are a kind of social engineering cyberattack that use emails, social media, texts or phone calls to masquerade as a trustworthy person or company. When a victim falls for the ruse, they may download malware, send money, or give out confidential information.

Social engineering cybercrimes will often use urgency and emotions to trick victims into taking action quickly. For example, using an emotional situation such as a friend who needs emergency funds immediately after losing their phone. They are intended to make the victim act irrationally and against their better judgement if they stop to think about what is actually happening. Scareware attacks are when the victim is scared into helping the hacker, either through a threat or concern something bad will happen if they don’t.  


What is a Denial of Service (DoS) attack?

A DoS cyberattack is different to the attacks listed above because there is nothing to gain for the threat actors except chaos and disruption. A DoS attack overwhelms a system, website or device with fraudulent traffic and prevents it from working properly.

DoS attacks are usually from a single source whereas when multiple sources are used to generate the fraudulent traffic, it’s known as a Distributed DoS (DDoS) attack. DDoS attacks can also infiltrate devices like smartphones and Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as doorbells and thermostats. These types of attacks can poorly affect the credibility and reputation of a company, leading to loss of business and revenue.


How can a small business protect themselves from cyberattacks?

Protecting your business from cyber threats is an achievable goal for small businesses. There are some basic steps that can be implemented quickly and easily that will make a big difference to how protected you are.

A password manager installed on your browser only requires you to remember one master password, it remembers the rest, and makes them hard for hackers to crack.

Install antivirus software on your devices. Your laptop probably already has it built in, so make sure you check the notifications and keep it turned on. Download a trusted anti-virus software onto your other devices.

Make sure all your devices are up to date with the latest software. Don’t put software updates off as they contain important security fixes.


Overall, the list of the most common types of cybersecurity attack on small businesses include:

  • Malware
  • Ransomware
  • Trojan horse
  • Viruses
  • Denial of Service (DoS)
  • Internet of Things (IoT) based attacks

All of these cyberattacks have the potential to destroy a small business or set it back so badly it could take months or years to recover financially, as well as gain the trust back from their customers.

Educating yourself and your employees and following the steps above, are just some of the ways you can protect your business. For more information get in touch with our team today.

About the author


Fuse is a Microsoft Partner, based in Northampton. We help organisations of all sizes to maximise IT efficiencies through the use of Microsoft cloud computing solutions.

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