Cybercrime is big business and business is good. According to Accenture, computer security threats will cost businesses $5.2 trillion within 5 years.
These incidents are on the rise with more than half of small businesses suffering a security breach last year. The average loss for a business from a major security breach is $200,000 bankrupting and destroying many of them. Keep reading for vital information on how to protect your business from the 7 most common cybersecurity threats.
In short, nearly everything of value your company has. Not to mention, all that every business and person with sensitive information stored on your servers has.
The livelihood of everyone connected to your business is in your hands. Protecting against cybersecurity threats is a huge responsibility of business owners. Before we get into how cybercrime is most likely to attack your business and how to prevent it, let us take a closer look at what is at stake.
The obvious target of a hacker is your liquid assets aka financial accounts where you keep your funds. Once a hacker gains access to your bank he or she could potentially empty your accounts and reroute the money to anywhere in the world.
Potentially even more valuable are the ins and outs of how your company operates. With access to your network cybercriminals can spy on every email and document moving in and out of your digital files.
This data adds up to a good picture of your businesses day to day operations and gives any competition valuable information they might need to move in on your market share.
If your company keeps good records than your servers have the personal and financial data of every employee and payment made and received from clients and customers you do business with. This data is gold to an identity thief. A data dump of these records could threaten the security of so many for years to come.
The greatest value of a company is often the company itself. There is any number of ways a hacker could use the information they steal to sabotage a business to leverage a hostile takeover or merely eliminate the competition.
Information is power and your company's secure data is money to those that recognize its value. Cybercriminals are well aware of the millions of dollars your company's data represents.
Data breaches cost an organization an average of $3.86 million a pop. The stakes are high and so should be data security on your list of priorities. Here are the top 7 cybersecurity threats to look out for in no particular order.
Knocking on the network's front door is the first play in the hacker's handbook. If they have or can successfully guess a password of an account with the access they need to the network they are good to go.
Cybercriminals have several methods of cracking your passwords with the first one being the common password dictionary attack. A dictionary attack attempts to log on to the system using every username and password loaded to its database (dictionary). If anyone on your network uses a common password a common hack tool could easily find it within minutes.
Another method of password cracking is the "brute force" attack. This one leaves no stone unturned. If you use a combination of words or numbers for your password, this approach will eventually stumble upon it. Shortlists of likely or potential keywords can be data farmed from your social media posts and feed to a hacking tool to make short work of the clever combination of your dog's name and your son's birthday.
The best passwords are randomly generated and changed often. Consider using one of the many services and applications available for randomizing and storing passwords that are hardest to crack.
Phishing is the same as fishing not only in pronunciation but in practice. Phishing targets human weakness through deception and social engineering. The hacker takes the form of a trusted person or business in order to con the target into handing over passwords and other sensitive data.
Emails containing links to cloned sites that look exactly like a login page to your account are often used to mine the data the hacker needs to gain access. A successful hack can even lock you out of your own accounts and give the hackers plenty of time to do whatever they want with it.
This type of attack is particularly difficult to defend against because it is the human element, not the technological element that is the weakness. The good news is that the nature of phishing attacks is in itself easy to spot. Train your employees on proper procedures for handling secure information like passwords and have them report any emails or other communications that are suspicious.
Malware is the blanket term for any software with malicious intentions. Some malware is so expertly coded and hidden in your network that it could act like a parasite draining your accounts unnoticed for years. There are several types of malware each designed to do some nasty business.
Programs designed to gather and transmit back to the hacker your activities online are termed spyware. For example, a program called a "keylogger" could be covertly installed on a PC to record every single character typed on a keyboard. Spyware is often capable of automatically sending this data to the hacker over your own internet connection.
As nasty as they sound these programs are codded with the purpose of replicating themselves and inserting their malicious code into other programs on other systems of the network.
These injected lines of code could have any number of purposes, but for sure they are out to do some kind of damage to their host. Antivirus software has to be constantly updated to fight the influx of new ever more cleaver viruses and worms.
Ransomware is a type of Malware that deserves its own entry. These programs range from a minor nuisance to a practically unbreakable, unbeatable, and traceable system of extortion. Most commonly the ransomware is installed by the user themselves unwittingly installing a file they thought was an update or other harmless program.
The malware then comes in takes over and completely locks you out of your own network. In some cases, the ransomware will encrypt all your data and threaten to release or destroy it if you don't pay the ransom. The ransom is demanded in cryptocurrency making the transaction very difficult to trace.
One noted ransomware attack, CryptoLocker, managed to extort the public out of $3 million over 8 months before it was taken down by authorities. The money was never recovered.
The name of a hit AMC TV series about early technology, halt and catch fire, is the command for a network or device to self-destruct. Some cybercriminals are hell-bent on destruction sometimes just for the joy of watching something burn.
These types of attacks are just as threatening if not more so than monetarily motivated ones. Make sure your company has protocols in place to protect your data from being destroyed. Redundancy through cloud storage and back up servers is a good start.
Hacktivism is the practice of using the hacking of networks for political gain. There are varying levels of legality and hostile intent of these so-called hacktivists. A business could be targeted by a hacktivist group just for being in business with a government or corporation that doesn't align with the views of the group.
Statistically, your own people are your biggest threat. The easiest way in a locked room is to have a key to the door. Privilege abuse is the leading cause of business data breaches.
Many an employee has been tempted by the lure of cybercrime and the promise of a big payday. Whenever possible limit access to sensitive data to as few people as possible. Draft human resource and security access strategies to minimize the threat of an inside attack on your business.
We also wrote another blog on how to prevent data from leaking out of the company. You can find it here: Plugging the Holes: The Best Ways to Prevent Data Leakage
You are not prepared. For whatever reason, 14% of small businesses today are vulnerable to attacks by cybercriminals. Train your people and keep yourself in the loop. The threats change and evolve constantly so best you stay one step ahead or find your business wide open to attack and asking for trouble.
Cyber-attacks are commonplace in the business world, but your business doesn't have to be a victim. Take steps now to protect yourself and your business from cybersecurity threats.
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