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There is a belief that obscurity is an advantage security-wise. However, this is far from the truth. Attackers are increasingly automating their attacks, making it easy to target multiple targets simultaneously.

Now more than ever, they are targeting small businesses. Small businesses are just as much at risk for network security threats as large enterprises. Small businesses must be aware of network threats and how to protect the organization against them.

What is a network security threat?

A network security threat is a weakness that allows unauthorized persons to breach a network and gain access to data.

Self-Inflicted Security Threats

Network security threats take different forms; some are created within an organization. Here are a few common threats made internally.

Outdated Software

Antiquated software and outdated manual processes are serious, often overlooked, self-inflicted network security threats. The importance of software updates cannot be overstated. Small businesses need to keep up with software updates for cybersecurity. Keeping software updated also improves processes and policies for agility and speed.

Failure to update software and processes expands the business’s network attack surfaces. As technology improves, attacks have become more sophisticated. Continually updating your software and policies enables your organization to respond accordingly to emerging security threats.


A misconfiguration is when software is set up or updated incorrectly, creating a self-inflicted network threat that puts the business’s systems and data at risk by creating a gap to slip in. Misconfigurations are usually caused by poor documentation or a lack of technical expertise.

Luckily, security misconfigurations are easy to fix when found. A simple way to avoid misconfigurations altogether is to patch all devices and software regularly.

External Threats (Attacks)

Attacks form the bulk of network security threats. The first step to protection is awareness. Here are a few common methods used to attack networks.


Phishing is the most widespread threat that small businesses face. A phishing attack is when an attacker poses as a trusted contact and tricks a user. When the attacker tricks the users, they usually look for information such as a password. In other cases, the attacker tricks the users into clicking a link that downloads malicious files or gives the attacker access.

Phishing attackers have become very convincing in pretending to be business contacts. They use social engineering, which is why these attacks are difficult to combat. One of the best ways to protect the business is to conduct cybersecurity awareness training.


Malware is a term used to denote any malicious code used by attackers to obtain access to networks to destroy or steal data. Malware encompasses a variety of cyber threats like trojans and viruses. The malware typically comes from spam or phishing communications which lead the user to download malicious files or create a backdoor to connect to a device and infect it in the background.


Ransomware is one of the most common attack methods. When deployed, it encrypts a company’s data so it cannot be accessed. The attacker holds the data hostage until the company has paid a ransom to unlock the data. Ransomware cripples business operations and forces owners to pay larger sums to regain access to their data.

To protect against ransomware, ensure strong end-to-end protection for all business devices, so attackers cannot get in to encrypt the data. Protection against ransomware is simple, but sometimes team member compliance is not.


A strong network security culture is essential for businesses. It is impossible to prevent 100% attacks. By investing in cybersecurity training, a company can reduce self-inflicted network threats and be prepared for external network threats.

Have questions about any of these attacks or how to protect against them? Contact us to meet with one of our cybersecurity experts.