The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats to Your Small Business in 2021

The recent surge in remote working has presented hackers and cybercriminals with a wealth of new opportunities. In fact, research by Hiscox Insurance found that, on average, one small business was attacked every 19 seconds in the UK in 2020. At the same time, research by cybersecurity company BullGuard found that over 40% of companies in the UK and USA lack a cybersecurity defense plan.

In 2021, cybersecurity is more important than ever and changing your password regularly isn’t enough to protect your company from an attack. It’s essential to be aware of the cybersecurity threats that your small business is facing in order to adequately prepare for them.

Phishing Scams

The year 2020 saw a huge rise in phishing scams and this trend will most likely continue to skyrocket in 2021. The covid-19 pandemic presented cybercriminals with ample opportunity to take advantage of the public’s fear and anxiety.

Common pandemic-related phishing scams include:

  • SMS messages asking users to pay for a vaccination

  • Emails claiming to be from a government revenue service asking for personal details in exchange for covid-19 relief funds

  • Bogus fines for breaching social distancing or lockdown rules

  • Alerts claiming to be from the World Health Organisation

Whilst the above threats don’t target businesses specifically, if your remote employees fall prey to phishing scams using a device that they also use to access company data, this could present a serious cybersecurity problem.

There are also many phishing scams which do target businesses. Attackers often pose as legitimate organisations or business contacts in order to obtain employees' trust.

These phishing emails contain malware, spyware and ransomware, all of which can cause a lot of damage to your small business. In fact, research by Verizon found that 94% of malware is delivered by email.

It’s essential that you train your staff to be able to spot a phishing email and include cybersecurity training in the onboarding process. You should also look into using a spam filter service to ensure that nasty phishing emails never even reach your team’s inboxes.


Ransomware attacks can be very nasty and unfortunately, they’re on the rise. In 2019, ransomware attacks cost an estimated $11.5 billion in damages globally; this almost doubled to $20 billion in 2020.

During a ransomware attack, a cybercriminal infects a system with malware, often through the use of a phishing link. Then, the hacker holds the business’ data to ransom by blocking access until the owner agrees to pay up.

In June 2020, the University of California was forced to hand over $1.14 million to a group of cybercriminals after they conducted a ransomware attack on data surrounding a cure for covid-19.

Hackers carefully price their demands so that paying the ransom is less expensive than hiring a cybersecurity team to fix the issue.

However, it’s not just large organisations who are at risk. Small businesses often feel they are too insignificant to present much of an opportunity for hackers, but this is completely false.

One of the best ways to prevent a ransomware attack is to ensure that you have a solid and reliable backup system in place. It’s best to automate your backups to ensure that they happen regularly, as older data is less valuable to your business. You should also take a two-pronged approach and perform both local and cloud backups to ensure multiple layers of protection.

Attacks on Remote Employees

It’s safe to say that the world wasn’t prepared for the covid-19 pandemic and the shift to remote working had to happen very quickly. This means that many small businesses who lack a dedicated IT department have gaping holes in their cybersecurity system and fail to protect their employees properly at home.

Many remote employees are still using their standard home network to access company data, but this leaves you wide open for a cybersecurity attack. You should provide your staff with a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which creates a protected network connection and makes it more difficult for third parties to steal data.

Be Prepared

Although the idea of a cybersecurity breach is probably something you’d rather not think about, it’s unwise to bury your head in the sand and hope that it doesn’t happen to you. Cybersecurity is on the rise and criminals can easily take advantage of businesses that aren’t prepared. By educating yourself on cybersecurity threats and putting best practices into place, you can avoid a potentially devastating attack that will drain your time, money and manpower. Investing in cybersecurity today will keep your business safe tomorrow.

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