While cybercrime is an enormous problem for all businesses, it can have a particularly devastating impact on small businesses. One well-executed attack can destroy a business, which makes cybersecurity for small business a priority. 

Globally, cybersecurity company McAfee reports that cybercrime costs businesses and governments about $1 trillion each year. But when it comes to small businesses, a handful of attacks are the most likely. 

Common Attacks on Small Businesses 

For those who earn a Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Science with a focus on networks and security, the following types of cyberattacks will become very familiar. Those who earn a Master of Arts in Intelligence and Global Security also are well-prepared to deal with these attacks and provide cybersecurity for small businesses. 


Ransomware is a version of malware, which breaks into a system to steal confidential information (or in some cases, delete important information). With ransomware, a business is typically locked out of its computer system and then asked to pay a ransom in order to get back in and have system function restored. 


Phishing remains highly successful despite repeated warnings and training classes sponsored by IT departments around the world. Typically, hackers use an email with a link that, when clicked on, enables a cyberattack that can withdraw personal information from a computer system. Phishing typically goes out in a  general email to everyone. Spear-phishing targets a specific person or group of people. 

Password Attack 

With a password attack, hackers attempt to guess a person’s password and use it to get access to a small business’s computer system. They typically do this by getting a list of employee names and then trying to find out personal information about key people. The goal, as always, is to get access to private information that and then sell it to unscrupulous buyers on the black market. 

Denial of Service 

The point of a denial of service attack is to bombard a companys website with massive amounts of data, causing it to shut down. With a small e-commerce business, a successful denial of service attack can essentially end the business if not dealt with quickly. 


A Man-in-the-Middle attack involves hackers who impersonate a user of a system to gain entry into the personal information of customers or sensitive business administration. It works one of two main ways. A hacker will say they represent a business and send emails to customers that attempt to get them to reveal private information. Or they contact a financial institution pretending to be a representative of a business and gain access to bank records. 

While computer science offers interesting careers in a variety of areas, those who work in cybersecurity for small business can make a big difference with their work. In the worst of times – during a cyber attack – their work can make the difference between a successful company or one that ends up on the brink of disaster.