Cybersecurity – a complex subject made simple. This blog series was developed to help businesses develop a better understanding of cybersecurity from a broad perspective. In Part 2 of this 3-part series about cybersecurity essentials, we review the cybersecurity threats and challenges that SMBs face.

Cyber threats take many forms and change at a rapid pace, which keeps small and mid-size businesses on their toes. It helps to become familiar with the types of threats out there so you can take the proper steps to protect your business.

Malware is a program inserted into a system to compromise the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of data. It is done secretly and can affect your data, applications, or operating system. Malware has become one of the most significant external threat to systems. Malware can cause widespread damage and disruption, and requires huge efforts within most organizations.

Ransomware is one of the most popular forms of cyber attack. Ransomware asks you to pay a ransom using online payment methods to regain access to your system or data. Online payment methods usually include virtual currencies such as bitcoins. Ransomware is hard to detect before it’s too late, and ransomware techniques continue to evolve. Because of this, your institution should focus on prevention efforts. Prevention efforts include training for employees and strong information security controls.

Social engineering / Phishing
Social engineering attacks rely on human interaction to trick users into providing access to sensitive data and systems. One of the most popular forms of social engineering attacks is Phishing. In a phishing attack, the users will receive an email that appears to be from a trustworthy person or business. The message will often ask for a response by following a link to a fake website or email address where you will provide confidential information. The format of the message will typically appear legitimate using proper logos and names. Any information entered into the fake link goes to the cyber criminal.

Insider Threats
Insider threats are cyber breaches caused by users within the organization, such as employees, contractors or customers. These threats can be accidental or malicious.

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS)
DDoS attacks make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with excessive traffic from many locations and sources. Website response time slows down, preventing access during a DDoS attack. Cyber criminals develop large networks of infected computers called Botnets by planting malware. By flooding the target with excessive traffic, hackers can slow down or crash a system, rending it unusable.

Advanced Persistent Threats (ATP)
Advanced persistent threats are prolonged attacks where hackers remain in a business’ system undetected for a long period of time. Meanwhile, they are monitoring your systems and stealing your data.

Man in the Middle Attacks (MITM)
Man in the middle attacks occur when a hacker intercepts and relays messages between two users without being detected –an attacker relays and possibly alters communication between two parties who believe they are communicating directly. This allows the attacker to relay communication, listen in, and even modify what each party is saying.

These are just a few of the most prominent attacks businesses must be aware of. Other attacks include botnets, credential stuffing, exploit kits, zero day exploits, etc. The list seems never ending as attacks continually evolve.

As new technologies emerge and we find new uses for technologies, the attack surface expands. Businesses need to keep their systems updated to protect against the newest exploits. This can be an impossible task for a small business. Also, as businesses collect more and more personal data, that leave them open to bigger attacks, particularly ransomware.

Each business must find a way to protect their data and networks and the solutions vary widely. There is no one silver bullet that will prevent all attacks. There are some cybersecurity solutions that every business should use, including: security awareness training, virus and malware protection, 24×7 monitoring, regular patching, firewalls, updates and more. We will discuss those solutions in our next blog.

Stay tuned next week for Part 3 of our essential cybersecurity series “Cybersecurity Tools & Solutions”.

Not sure where to start with cybersecurity for your business? ACE IT Solutions offers a comprehensive suite of customizable cybersecurity services to meet your organization’s specific risk profile and compliance needs. Contact ACE IT Solutions at 646.558.5575 or

Read Part 1 – Cybersecurity: Why is it important?

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