What Are the Major Security Threats for Small Businesses

business IT services and security

Keeping your business safe from external IT threats is one of the most important responsibilities that entrepreneurs have. Even a minor contingency could have adverse consequences that are difficult to recover from.

The main issue that people encounter is simply being unaware of the type of risks their company faces. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of small business security threats to help keep your organization as safe as possible. Let’s dive into some of the most notable security threats that businesses of all types face.


Malware is by far one of the most prolific business IT services and security threats. Interestingly, many people are unaware of the fact that this has to do with a handful of reasons outside of the program itself.

To clarify, small businesses are more likely to use outdated operating systems. It’s not uncommon to walk into a smaller company’s office and find that they are using software that hasn’t been updated in years. Additionally, they may assume that their organization is not large enough for hackers to target.

This could cause them to forego the opportunity to learn more about how to protect themselves. Unfortunately, small businesses are still lucrative targets for cybercriminals. They are often easier to hack into, and stealing data from a group of small businesses could be more profitable than a single large company.

The malware itself, however, is still the largest threat. This is a category of malicious programs that aim to steal data or otherwise disrupt communication/workflow. One of the most common types of malware is known as a Trojan horse.

This program appears to be innocent at first, often misrepresenting itself as a well-known application. Upon running it, however, a wide range of consequences could occur.

These include your computer crashing to a hacker gaining access to all of the data on the device.

Phishing Attacks

Even if you aren’t aware of it, you’ve likely been exposed to a phishing attack before. If you’ve ever gotten a strange social media message or email from an unknown sender, this was likely a phishing attack.

Hackers use social engineering in order to gain the trust of victims so that they willingly provide the hackers with sensitive information. For instance, let’s assume that a low-level employee at a tech firm receives an email from the CFO.

This message urgently implores the employee to send over a large number of documents so that they can be verified for accuracy. It’s not impossible for a hacker to spoof the actual email address of the company CFO and pretend to be this individual.

The employee will then unknowingly send the criminal critical information that belongs to the organization. Not all phishing attacks are this nuanced, however. Hackers often send a massive number of emails to random individuals.

These messages often claim that a bank account, social media account, etc. have an important alert for them.

The message then provides a fraudulent link that takes users to a clone of the login page for these platforms. When users enter their password, they are told their information is incorrect.

However, their login credentials are sent directly to the hacker. This makes phishing one of the largest cybersecurity threats for small business.


The cybercrime industry is projected to exceed $10 trillion in value midway through the decade. Much of this value is expected to come from compromised business data.

However, a malicious type of program known as Ransomware is also projected to bring in significant revenue. For those who are unaware, this program encrypts all of the information on a device and then demands that the victim pay the hacker in order to regain access. The hacker often demands cryptocurrency as the form of payment so that it can’t be traced.

In the event that the victim does not pay the ransom, and a number of scenarios could play out. Primarily, the hacker will choose to leave the data encrypted indefinitely or simply erase it. This means that anything that has not been properly backed up will be gone forever.

Out of all the types of security threats for small business, this is a particularly alarming one.

There’s also always a chance that the hacker could leak sensitive information to your industry competitors or even the media. This often has consequences that many entrepreneurs do not consider.

For example, let’s assume that there was a financial scandal that was dealt with internally within the organization. Making this information public could cause a significant blow to that business’s brand reputation.

The FBI urges victims of this type of attack to avoid paying the ransom at all costs. If you choose to do so, you will only be funding additional attacks in the future. For this reason, it’s always recommended to frequently back up your company information so that you can restore it if anything unexpected occurs.

Improperly Trained Employees

Unfortunately, a major risk to your company is its employees. If they have not been properly trained on how to handle sensitive information, they could unknowingly cause issues. For example, your workers could choose to create weak passwords for their business accounts.

This will make them exponentially easier for hackers to break into. If your organization allows workers to access company systems from personal devices, more issues can arise. This is most commonly seen by using their personal devices for work-related activities on unsecured networks.

In the event that this network becomes compromised, criminals would be able to access all of the company data they are working with. This includes emails, files, and other sensitive information.

To help combat this problem, it’s recommended to hold training sessions for existing employees and new hires. This will help ensure that everybody is up to speed on your company’s security protocols.

Since the tech landscape is always changing, hackers are always coming up with new ways to steal information. This means that you should update your company training multiple times per year.

This can go a long way in helping you protect your organization. You should hold employees accountable for failing to adhere to these regulations.

Even a single person could put the company in danger. Data access should always be hierarchical.

To elaborate, entry-level employees should never be able to access all of the information that an executive can. This safeguard in itself will help prevent a large number of problems in the future.

Poor Network Security

It’s not uncommon for a company’s network to be less secure than its owners think. As previously mentioned, small business entrepreneurs are often unaware of the threats that they face.

This means that they may mistakenly believe they are fully protected simply because nothing has happened yet. This often creates a situation where they do not prioritize network security.

As you might guess, hackers love to target businesses of this type. It often takes little effort for them to infiltrate the network and exfiltrate data. In many situations, small business owners may not even be aware that their data has been compromised.

For Southern California companies, the good news is that working with a managed service provider in Los Angeles is one of the most efficient ways to beef up your network security. One of the most important tools they implement is known as active monitoring.

As the name suggests, this allows them to immediately detect and resolve issues as they appear. The primary benefit of doing so is the fact that this process can occur outside of business hours. For companies with a bare-bones infrastructure, people might show up to work one day only to find that they have been hit by a cyber attack.

DDoS Attacks

This is one of the most prominent threats that small companies face. A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack aims to take down a particular server or network. This is accomplished by overloading it with a large volume of traffic within a short period of time.

Hackers are often able to achieve this by using compromised computers and directing them to the website. This process is run in the background of these machines so that their users aren’t aware of what is occurring.

In order to add more compromised machines to this network, hackers distribute malware on a widespread basis. A business that has been affected by a DDoS attack will likely find that its website is unable to function.

It should come as no surprise that even a brief period of downtime could result in significant financial loss. In some cases, this could be a situation that is virtually impossible to recover from. Companies that do not have optimized networks are at a larger risk of this type of attack.

This is due to the fact that they are less equipped to deal with spikes in traffic.

A Poor Remote Work Infrastructure

It’s no secret that the way employees work will likely never be the same.

After businesses were forced to close as a result of the pandemic, tens of thousands of employees began working remotely. Now that a proper system has been established for this type of work, there’s a good chance that it will stick around permanently. However, not every business has optimized its remote work infrastructure.

This means that these companies have not accounted for the risks associated with transferring sensitive information across networks. For example, the network at the business itself may be sufficiently secured.

The network that your employees use, however, may not. Hackers have become aware of the fact that many businesses are adopting this type of model.

So, they are actively looking for weak points in the connection between these two parties. This situation can become even more complicated if employees use public networks for work-related activities.

It’s common knowledge that you should never assume that a public network is safe. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always stop workers from taking advantage of free Wi-Fi at a café in order to finish up a report or project. Although it’s not always guaranteed this will cause issues, it does put the organization at risk.

No Set Contingency Plan

At some point during the lifetime of your business, a contingency will arise. This is true for companies in virtually any industry. If you don’t have a disater recovery plan in place with details about how to respond, you may not be able to recover effectively.

The longer you take to handle a contingency, the more your business will suffer financially. You will also cause issues for your customers in terms of their satisfaction with your brand.

If they can’t use your website, place an order, or otherwise engage with your company, they may turn to a competitor instead. You may also experience a significant setback if you are not able to recover your lost data. A good IT consulting Los Angeles based company can quickly help you determine the extent of your damage and the speed of its recover.

A large component of business efficiency involves referencing information that has been collected over time. This could involve information about your users or the performance of your company itself. If this data is permanently lost, you won’t be able to reach previous levels of performance.

Depending on the industry you work in, you might even encounter legal issues. Those who work in the healthcare sector are required to adhere to the standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

A failure to do so could mean a class-action lawsuit is filed against your business.

Managing Security Threats Might Seem Overwhelming

It may even seem impossible at first. However, the above list will provide you with valuable information about the common security threats that small businesses face. From here, you can begin developing a course of action to help you avoid them and keep your sensitive data safe.

Want to learn more about what we have to offer? Feel free to get in touch with us today and see how we can help.