Over the last few years, cyber-attacks against every kind of organization, from large corporations to political parties, have increased.

Small businesses face the same threats as other organizations. Media stories tend to focus on high-profile consumer brands (B2C companies) due to the number of people affected, like the 500 million Yahoo accounts hacked in 2014. In contrast, you don’t usually hear about the small B2B businesses that get attacked by cybercriminals, even though it’s a regular occurrence and a growing threat to these companies.

How Do Cyber Attackers Target B2B Businesses?

In many cyber-attacks, automated bots trawl the internet searching for security weaknesses in websites and software. Once the bots detect a weakness, human hackers target those systems, gaining access to sensitive information. Although B2B business owners may assume that their current security measures are sufficient, cybersecurity company Symantec recently reported a rise in every category of attack, from malware to phishing, with a notable increase in threats to small companies under 250 employees.

One security risk specific to the B2B sector is the rise in fake invoice scams. For example, Intuit warned companies using its QuickBooks accounting software to watch out for fake invoice emails, where scammers use the QuickBooks logo and email addresses that appear legitimate to send false invoices to clients. These emails contain links that automatically download a Trojan virus when opened. Small businesses can’t invest as much in cybersecurity as larger companies, making them more vulnerable to these types of attacks.

What Risks Do Cyber Attacks Pose?

Think about everything you have in your computer and online accounts: contact details, emails, passwords, bank accounts, financials, product information. Cybercriminals could access any of this information and either sell it or blackmail B2B business owners who want to protect their reputations, revenue, and clients.

A data breach that impacts client, supplier, or partner relations could cause irreparable damage to a small B2B company. Depending on the nature of the cyber attack, there are several potential financial implications, such as law suits, fines, and the cost of system and security upgrades. Additionally, companies might need to recover stolen funds from banks or other payment providers. As a result of these financial issues, roughly 60% of small businesses close within six months of experiencing a data breach.

How Can I Safeguard My Business?

Taking preventative action is always better than trying to fix compromised systems and tarnished reputations after an attack. Review your current cybersecurity protocols and systems. If you’re concerned you don’t know enough, speak to an IT or cybersecurity expert and consider taking some of the following actions.

  • Perform a security audit. Don’t just check systems; think about procedures. Would your staff know how to react if they received a fake invoice?
  • Update software regularly. Automated bots can alert hackers to any system weaknesses, so make sure you don’t give them that opportunity.
  • Invest in external backup systems. Store duplicates of your data in a Cloud-based storage system to avoid the disaster of losing all your records in a cyber attack.
  • Implement a strong password policy. Train your employees and ensure you have an IT security policy on paper.
  • Stay vigilant. Set Google News alerts for “cyber attack” and other security phrases so you can stay aware of the evolving threats B2B businesses face.

Trojan viruses, fake invoices, phishing, and a dozen other attacks can happen at any time. Don’t fall victim before you take action. Now is the time to safeguard the business you have worked so hard to build.

Author: Alice Williams has an MA in Communication Studies where she studied corporate communication extensively. She contributes to a variety of online publications where she writes on business and technology.

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