What Are the Most Common Causes of Data Breaches for Small Businesses?

In the age of constantly developing new technologies, companies of all sizes are subject to data breaches and data leaks. It is no surprise, with so many companies moving digital and implementing cashless payments and management software ranging from marketing automation tools to online faxing services.

Even something as straightforward as remote-access PSTN modems can become the target of cybercriminals. What is PSTN? It is an acronym for Public Switched Telephone Network — a system that transfers communication through telephone lines.


Small businesses are particularly susceptible to data breaches due to a lack of cybersecurity measures, resulting in the loss of incredibly sensitive information. Below, you will find necessary information about several most common causes of data breaches for small businesses and learn what exactly makes small businesses so susceptible to cyber-attacks. Malware, compromised passwords, permissions overload, insider threats, and outdated software are just a few examples.

Continue reading to learn more about data breaches and how to prevent them!


Malware is a blanket term for any kind of software that damages or disrupts computers, networks, or data. Malware is used for criminal purposes, such as identity theft, corporate espionage, corporate sabotage, and stealing confidential data.

The most common types of malware for small businesses include worms, trojans, backdoors, ransomware, spyware, bots, keyloggers, and rootkits, which can steal your credit card details, infect your computers with ransomware demanding a ransom payment, and use your systems to mine cryptocurrency.

Compromised Passwords

If small business employees use simple passwords that are easy to remember and crack, they can become an easy target for hackers. With a compromised password, a hacker can effortlessly access the business’s systems and steal sensitive data.

Any employee, including the company owner, should use strong passwords that are difficult to guess. If you are not sure about the strength of your passwords, use a password manager like 1Password to generate strong passwords.

Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are a common cause of data breaches for small businesses. Cybercriminals send out thousands of phishing emails every day. Most of the said emails are personalized, making them look authentic.

Cybercriminals usually target small businesses, as they do not have enough security measures in place to protect their data. So, small business owners should educate themselves and their employees on identifying phishing scams and what to do if they fall victim to one.

Permissions Overload

Your business information becomes vulnerable if too many users have access to it. In the long run, a large number of granted permissions can result in dangerous DDOS attacks. Because of that, it is essential that you give employees access only to the data they need.

Backdoor Attack

Backdoors are special pieces of code placed in software programs by hackers to gain unauthorized access to systems. Once installed on your system, backdoors allow hackers to gain back-end access to your network and steal company and employee data.

Insider Threats

Insider threats can be damaging for small businesses. Such a threat comes from within the company, and it frequently occurs when a current/former employee shares important credentials with cybercriminals – willingly or not.

Outdated Software

Software updates are extremely important for businesses. Such updates can give you access to the latest security features, as well as provide you with security  patches that fix vulnerabilities in older software versions.

If you neglect to update your software regularly, you will leave your system vulnerable to cyber-attacks. That is why you should periodically check for software updates and install the said updates as soon as possible.

What Can Small Businesses Do to Prevent Data Breaches?

Start with an IT Audit

The first step in preventing data breaches is getting to know the current state of your information technology systems. Find out what software you are using, how your computers are connected to the network, and how secure your system is. An information technology audit will give you a clear picture of your security needs. Ideally, it should be conducted by an experienced cybersecurity company.

Protect Your Network

Once you know what risks your business faces, it is time to protect your network from cyber-attacks. Install anti-virus software on your computers, install firewalls, set up password policies, and use antivirus software on the mobile devices that you use for work purposes. Lastly, install a spam filter on your email server so that it can identify and block phishing emails.

Do Not Click on Suspicious Links

To prevent data breaches, you should not click on links in emails from unknown senders. If you receive an email from an unknown sender with an urgent subject line, do not open it or reply to it. If the potential sender is someone you might know, call that person directly and ask about the matter instead. In addition to that, you should not open attachments from unknown sources and avoid downloading random files from file-sharing websites.

Always Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords are essential for preventing data breaches. Make sure that every employee knows how to create strong passwords that are not easy to crack. Password managers can help you generate and store strong passwords for your systems and websites.

Other than that, you can implement two-factor authentication on applications and websites that you and your employees use on a daily basis. It will make it much harder for hackers to break into your business accounts and steal your data!

Educate Your Employees

It is necessary to educate employees about phishing emails and malware. You might want to enroll your employees in a cybersecurity training program and conduct regular cybersecurity sessions. Such sessions can include both lessons on cybersecurity best practices and routine tests to see whether your employees have learned anything.

In Conclusion

Data breaches have become a part of the lives of business owners – companies of all sizes are being attacked by hackers every day, resulting in data leaks and money losses. However, small businesses are particularly vulnerable to breaches, as such businesses lack the resources to properly secure sensitive data against malicious attacks.

In most cases, it only takes a compromised password and a simple email attachment to leave a small business vulnerable to cyber-attacks. That is why small businesses need to implement a proper cyber security plan with a focus on educating employees on cyber threats.

Work done by a Team Of Security Experts from Cyber Writes (www.cyberwrites.com) - World’s First Dedicated Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) Platform for Cybersecurity. For Exclusive Cyber Security Contents, Reach at: [email protected]