9 Biggest Cybersecurity Threats to Small Businesses in 2021

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The last decade has seen the meteoric rise of cybercrime to become the world’s most expensive type of crime. This isn’t very surprising, given that data has surpassed oil to become the most valuable resource. 

In our new data-driven economy, there are many new opportunities for startups, and operations can be more efficient and streamlined thanks to new technologies. Unfortunately, this is at the expense of exposure to new forms of cyber attack quickly developing in the growing industry of cybercrime.   

For small businesses, being able to handle all the usual IT workloads in addition to temporary surges and increased cyber threats is paramount to success. It is always best to have a reliable IT support company, like EC-MSP, on hand to provide support when it’s needed most. 


There are many ways in which your business can fail to meet best security practices. These are some of the critical areas to look out for: 

Password management

Recent research has shown that as many as 42 percent of organisations breached attributed the breach to a user-password compromise. It is unfortunately still the case that employees choose passwords that are simple and easy to guess. Passwords are also often frequently shared and reused by employees and vendors who do not fully understand the risks involved. It is important for organisations to include password management in their security policies, and it is a good idea to adopt password management solutions, such as LastPass or Dashlane. 


Phishing is one of the most common ways that security breaches can occur. Through phishing emails, hackers are able to gain initial access in what may prove to be a prolonged and damaging cyber attack. Malicious links embedded in fraudulent emails enable malware to be downloaded to a device, and then gain access to the network, when they are clicked on. Even though most of the time they may be easy to avoid, given the massive volume of phishing attempts, those few occasions of error can lead to devastating consequences. 2020 saw a huge increase in phishing attempts – the FBI reported more than double that of the previous year.  

Social engineering

Social engineering is proof that cybercriminals are ready to get creative with their criminal activities. It involves gathering personal information of victims, then using various ways to gain their trust and learn more information that can be used to breach the security of a particular organisation. There are different stages in social engineering and different techniques used to gather critical information from unsuspecting targets.  

Proven points of entry

With cybercriminals targeting particular points of entry from which to launch larger attacks, it is in the interests of organisations to keep the attack surface to a minimum. Unfortunately, this is very challenging in a world of increasing wireless and mobile networks, and IoT devices. A huge increase in people working remotely has only added to the points of entry that are vulnerable to attacks. The only option that employers have is to develop and maintain strict policies on remote access and devices used, as well as the use of security measures like VPNs and endpoint security solutions.   

App Fraud

This is another way in which security breaches can be made on mobile devices. In the infinite number of apps on the app stores, not all of them are completely secure or reliable. It is relatively easy for criminals to create fraudulent apps that can be used to gather all and any information that may be useful to them. When those mobile devices connect to a corporate network, the results can lead to a damaging cyberattack. This is another reason that all devices must be secure and protected. 


More than any security solutions that can be deployed, possibly the most important single factor in the security of an organisation is its employees. A very large number of breaches are the result of the insider threat, and most are unintentional. The best way to combat this is with an effective training programme that is ongoing and frequent, and given to all employees. Everyone needs to be aware of the security measures that must be followed, and thoroughly appreciate the importance of security at all times.  


When cybercriminals have exploited the above vulnerabilities in an organisation, they will be in a position to launch a devastating attack. This could be one of the following:


This is a type of cyber attack that is on the rise, and businesses of all sizes are at risk. Once ransomware attackers have compromised and stored data or IT systems, they will ask for a ransom to be paid for the data to be unencrypted and returned. Attackers usually focus on organisations in certain fields, such as health and insurance, where large amounts of personal data are stored. They also target smaller organisations because security levels are usually lower, and those that are more likely to pay ransoms. 


Distributed Denial of Service attacks are also increasingly common. These attacks turn infected devices into bots that can be controlled by malicious attackers, forming a botnet. Because each of the devices in a botnet is a legitimate source, it can be hard to identify DDoS attacks. A botnet will target a server or network and each bot will send requests to the IP address, which will disrupt the usual flow of traffic. 


Malware is a term that can include a range of attacks that could include viruses, trojans or spyware. Any kind of malicious code that enables hackers to gain access to computer systems or networks, steal or destroy data can come under this umbrella term. Malware could be inadvertently downloaded following a phishing or smishing (SMS-phishing) attack or by connecting to other infected devices. Malware attacks can be hugely damaging for devices or they can provide a backdoor for attackers to access. 

Unfortunately, the struggle against cybercrime is relentless and ongoing – in fact, it is only just getting started. Small businesses that cannot afford large security teams are at even greater risk, and all organisations need to have a comprehensive security policy in place. 

Don’t let yours be the one that is caught off guard.