The 13 Security Threats Businesses Must Understand

Originally posted on May 8, 2021 @ 7:27 am

The 13 Security Threats Businesses Must Understand

Most businesses handle sensitive or secure data of one kind or another, and one of the greatest risks to business security is not having sufficient knowledge of possible threats. Every day, Interwest helps businesses in the tri-cities stay secure and connected. We don’t just offer phones, structured cabling, and wireless networks to keep businesses connected, we offer alarm systems, video surveillance, and access control to keep your business safe. Our technicians are available to offer support 24/7, and now, we’re here to help you understand some of the main security threats and how you can prevent them.


1. Unaware of Network Security Threats

A business’s security is more than a lock on a door and an alarm on the windows. In the digital world, the internet is a vital utility through which business is conducted, and therefore network security should be of the utmost importance. However, many businesses aren’t fully aware of all the threats to their network security, and the severity of the risk of damages and losses they pose.

Threats to a business’s network and data can come in many different forms, and not understanding those threats is the first security risk that businesses need to understand. Network security threats are always changing and adapting, and it’s important to be familiar with them to be able to protect against them.


Infographic 1 Network Security Threats


External Threats

Threats can enter a business’ network through a number of vulnerabilities. The best way to mitigate threats and the risks they pose is to understand them and know how to prevent them. 

2. Malware

Malware is malicious software intended to steal information and damage devices. It spreads through websites and phishing schemes, and often enters a system because someone inadvertently invites it in. Several healthcare companies were hit with malware and ransomware in 2020, and the results were catastrophic for both the companies and their customers. 

How to prevent malware:  Detection systems and employee education. 

3. Viruses

Like their biological counterparts, computer viruses are corrupted applications, files, or web links that replicate themselves and spread to corrupt more data. They can result in widespread destruction and damage to systems, opening them to further vulnerabilities. Viruses can also result in losses and damages due sensitive data and assets being compromised. 

How to prevent viruses:  Anti-virus software, firewall, and employee education on recognizing and mitigating potential threats. 

4. Phishing

Phishing schemes target businesses via email. They attempt to elicit sensitive or personal information with false rhetoric and introduce malware. Unlike viruses, spyware, ransomware, and malware, phishing schemes are social in nature, with employees or other stakeholders inadvertently giving access to a system. 

How to prevent phishing:  Educating employees and having protocols dictating the sharing of information are essential to preventing phishing attacks. 

5. Spyware

Spyware is a type of malware specifically designed to enter devices and track internet usage and data. Cybercriminals use the information from tracking to extract further sensitive data for monetary gain.

How to prevent spyware:  Anti-spyware software, firewall, and employee education on recognizing and limiting access threats may gain. 

6. Ransomware

Ransomware is malware that digitally extorts a business by blocking their access to essential files or systems until they pay a ransom or meet demands.

How to prevent ransomware:  Anti-virus software installed on all devices, firewalls, and employee education. 


Infographic 2 Security Mistakes Business

Internal Threats

Some of the most dangerous threats to a business’s security come from within. Negligence in regards to digital security protocols is one of the riskiest threats to a business’s network security. Here are some examples of ways in which internal threats can appear:

  • Not updating and patching the network and security
  • Giving access to unauthorized users
  • Using admin accounts for other activities
  • Not monitoring the network
  • Inconsistent network configuration
  • Disgruntled employees
  • Not backing up system data
  • Credential sharing
  • Untrained employees
  • Using personal devices
  • Weak passwords
  • Lost keys

With the number of threats and the havoc they wreak on businesses, how do you secure a network and protect valuable data? Learn what the threats are and how to prevent them from accessing your network.

7. Credential Sharing

Having user credentials serves multiple purposes— you can control who has access to what, and what they can do with that access; and you can track what someone accesses, and when they accessed it. Only authorized members should have access to sensitive assets. Unauthorized access increases the risk of compromised assets.

Theft is an obvious security threat, but the risk of it will be dependent on the type of assets your business has. Usually, theft occurs in the form of data, assets, or other sensitive information. Theft is important to mitigate and protect against because it has cascading effects; any theft results in further damages to reputation and clientele. Keeping credential sharing to a minimum protects the business from liability. 

8. Poor Data Backup & Traffic Monitoring

Outsiders who gain access to a business without authorization can damage dangerous and valuable equipment, resulting in accidents that can cause physical injury, property damage, and damage to reputation. Anything can be damaged, and protecting from damage is critical to any security plan. 

Additionally, not monitoring a network or premises reduces your ability to notice if something is amiss and creates opportunities for threats to enter the system. In the event of losses or damages, not backing up system data means a system can’t be restored and important data and information can no longer be accessed.

9. Poorly Implemented Firewalls & Security Maintenance Practices 

Firewalls are a barrier that monitors and filters traffic to prevent suspicious or malicious entities from entering the network. Ensuring that your company has a properly set up firewall can ensure that you’re protected from any malicious incoming and outgoing network traffic. Said traffic can result in the costly loss of private data, exposing employee information, or even losing trade secrets

While your business is hopefully immune from these high profile threats, it’s important to understand that hacking by domestic and foreign groups and even foreign governments are a very real threat. 

Antivirus and anti-malware software is a good start, as this software protects from network corruption and data theft. Nothing can be more dangerous than a large number of company-owned devices with no security solution in place. This can quickly expose sensitive client and company information. Worse still, you could even become exposed to a ransomware hacker group, and get stuck with a massive bill, or lose your data. 

However, there are many things that can go wrong if security systems are not properly implemented and maintained. A best-case scenario is that devices become unusable, but more commonly you might find that your business suffers financial damage and long term reputation issues that haunt you for years.

Inconsistent network configuration makes it difficult to recognize if something is amiss. Interwest offers structured cabling specifically for this reason. In addition, not updating and patching network systems is the same as having no security at all, because it renders them vulnerable to threats. Ensuring that a security plan is in place and is consistently implemented is essential. 

10. Untrained Employees

Untrained employees are a risk because they are more likely to make a mistake and compromise assets. It is essential that every employee in your organization has an understanding of potential security risks and how to account for them because gaps in a security plan can be catastrophic for your business. 

11. Misuse of Admin Accounts

Administrative accounts have special permissions, and often have deep access to network and security systems. The more people with them, the more liabilities appear. Making sure that employees with administrative access are briefed on the appropriate use of such accounts is essential for security. In addition to conservative delegation of admin permissions, users should also make sure they if they perform multiple job duties, they should only use admin accounts for admin tasks. Without these protocols, there is a greater risk of more severe damages and losses.

12. Using Personal Devices

Personal devices should be minimally used in a work environment, or even better, not at all. They are an external access point to your organization, and it is difficult to secure them. Think of personal devices as doorways into your network, and each one is unlocked and unmonitored. The less access they have to a business’ network, the better. 

13. Weak Passwords

A weak password can be broken in moments by many different cracking tools, and passwords in general always have a level of security risk. Utilizing strong password generation for your accounts as well as enabling services and systems like biometric authentication or two-factor authentication are some of the best and easiest ways to protect against a breach brought on by poor security.


Interwest for Your Business Security

It’s not enough to to install the lock on a door and an alarm on a window— You need to lock every door and window shut, turn the alarm on, and respond to the alarm if it goes off. The best security measures are the proactive one, and the first step to mitigating threats is to understand them.

Interwest Communications is here to help. Our alarm systems and video surveillance systems protect your physical assets and properties, and our access control and network systems keep your data secure. Our experts will take you through the process of revising and securing your business security protocols and systems. Get in touch with us today