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Common Cybersecurity Threats & How To Avoid Them

Are you an SMB owner or leader? Are you overwhelmed by all the online articles and vendors using scare tactics to get your attention? Can you define and identify cybersecurity threats to your organization? Do you know where to go for help and support? 

You can protect your organization against most threats and risks by having a strategic cybersecurity program with a formal risk program, tested contingency plans with practical exercises, and cyber-insurance coverage covering you in case you cannot protect against all threats and risks. 

This blog walks through five common cybersecurity threat categories, the impacts, and five protection steps to elevate your protection. Each threat category has numerous evolving sub-threats, requiring continuous attention and countermeasures. Create a formal risk management program to address all threat categories strategically. 

Threat #1: Malware

Malware is a specifically designed software to compromise your computer system, networks, or other devices. Malicious actors create it, intending to cause harm, steal information, or gain unauthorized access to your systems.  

The Impact: Malware can lead to multiple issues, often cascading into other, more significant issues. Common impacts include: 

  • Data breaches and the loss or destruction of sensitive information.
  • Systems interruptions and downtime.
  • Operational downtime and financial loss.
  • Compliance and legal issues.
  • Malware spreads throughout your entire system.

Protection Steps: There is no single solution to prevent malware; protection requires consistent monitoring and systems maintenance. Common activities include: 

  • Install reputable anti-virus and anti-malware software.  
  • Keep your systems and software up to date. 
  • Monitor your systems.  
  • Exercise caution when downloading everything online. 
  • Train your users to be vigilant when online.  

Threat #2: Phishing

Attackers attempt to deceive individuals into revealing sensitive information, such as login credentials, personal data, or financial information.  

The Impact: Phishing attacks are the most widespread because bad actors have your information and can sell it on the dark web long after an initial attack. Common impacts include:  

  • Identity theft and unauthorized access to personal or business accounts. 
  • Data breaches using your credentials. 
  • Identity theft. 
  • Financial loss due to Fraudulent Transactions. 
  • Account hijacking. 

Protection Steps: Your behavior and habits contribute to risk and protection. Some standard protection activities include: 

  • Stop posting to social media, and limit the amount of personal data on your online profile. 
  • Train users to identify suspicious links and adopt the behavior of not clicking links. 
  • Enable Multi-Factor authentication. 
  • Implement email filter systems. 
  • Regularly update web browsers. 

Threat #3: Ransomware

A form of cyber-extortion where the attackers demand payment (often in the form of cryptocurrency) for the decryption key or the restoration of services. The malicious software encrypts the victim’s data or locks them out of computer systems or devices. It renders the data or system inaccessible until the ransom is paid.  

The Impact: 

  • Moderate to severe business interruption. 
  • Company and customer loss. 
  • Data leakage leads to reputational risk. 
  • Financial loss due to ransom payments. 

Protection Steps 

  • Implement a backup solution that is ransomware-resistant test restoration. 
  • Install reputable anti-virus and anti-malware software.  
  • Keep your software and security patches up to date.  
  • Implement Network Segmentation. 
  • Conduct regular security audits. 

Threat #4: DDoS

A Distributed Denial of Services is a malicious attack targeting online services, networks, or websites with excessive amounts of traffic, causing them to become unavailable to legitimate users. DDoS attacks often use other compromised computers to attack their victim.  

The Impact 

  • Service interruption to your internal or customer-facing solutions.  
  • Downtime and service interruptions lead to financial losses. 
  • Reputation risk, customer dissatisfaction, and loss of trust. 
  • Server and website vulnerability. 
  • Legal and regulatory issues for failed service delivery and potential data loss.  

Protection Steps 

  • Monitor your traffic using automated notification systems alerting you to pending issues. 
  • Implement Intrusion Protection Systems (IDS) to detect and block suspicious traffic patterns. 
  • Utilize Content Delivery Networks (CDN) to distribute traffic. 
  • Deploy traffic filtering and rate limiting, and consider cloud-based services separated from your infrastructure.  
  • Invest in a scalable infrastructure. 

Threat #5: SQL Injection Attack

A cybersecurity vulnerability and attack technique targeting applications and websites using databases for storing, retrieving, and manipulating data. The attack exploits improper handling of user-input data to execute malicious SQL (Structured Query Language) commands. 

The Impact 

  • Service interruption to your internal or customer-facing solutions.  
  • Unauthorized access to sensitive data, including user credentials and personal information. 
  • Data manipulation or deletion leads to data fidelity and integrity issues. 
  • Theft of company confidential and customer data.  
  • Potential full compromise of applications and data. 

Protection Steps 

  • Validate and sanitize user input before using it in database queries. 
  • Conduct regular security assessment and penetration testing. 
  • Adopt secure coding practices such as parameterized queries and input validation. 
  • Conduct regular security audits, inspections, and penetration testing. 
  • Stay updated on the latest security patches. 


Threat and risk management are ongoing activities. Responsibility for managing cybersecurity threats and risks belongs to organizational or IT leadership. Following guidelines and good cyber hygiene is the responsibility of everyone in the organization. Your formal threat and risk management program is the foundation of your formal Cybersecurity program.   

It is difficult to understand and combat cybersecurity threats and risks by yourself. Nuances embedded in each risk category add to the complexity; explosive growth in cybercrime illustrates the critical importance of creating effective Cybersecurity programs and aligning with organizations that can support your security needs. Reach out to ISOutsource today and we can help protect everything important to your business.