Cybersecurity threats can come at your business from a variety of angles. Any time money and sensitive data are involved, there is a cybercriminal waiting in the wings trying to steal it. These criminals can operate from any location and are so digitally-savvy, they’re nearly impossible for authorities to catch.
New cyberthreats emerge daily, meaning it can be difficult for even large corporations and cybersecurity professionals to keep up on the latest security issues. Software exploits are the predominant culprit as face-to-face scams and data theft from banking and credit cards become harder for criminals to get past. To prevent theft and embarrassment, you and your employees need to stay up to date; reading up on the latest cyberthreats on Google News, social media, etc.
Following is a list of the most common cybersecurity issues faced by business owners currently.
Malware: Where most issues start
Laziness of keeping things updated is a big problem. This includes all software and persistently changing passwords using modern recommendations. You also need to terminate employee access to all company accounts when they leave.
However, despite your best efforts, malware exploits will always be a problem in your business. Even the best data encryption doesn’t mean the software used by your web host, partners, and company devices is impenetrable.
Even if a hacker can’t steal your data, they can use keyloggers to steal yours or your customer’s passwords. They can install phishing scripts on your websites or send emails to unsuspecting (and trusting) customers, too. Malware, and the hackers that create them, is the biggest overall threat to any business that operates using digital tools.
Drive-by downloads aren’t new. They’re also a persistent threat that’s extremely hard to avoid. While protecting yourself from such an attack can be difficult, the basic method is always the same. You browse a website you deem secure — Facebook is a big one for drive-bys.
Then, a message pops up informing you that your computer is infected — or that you’ve won a prize (Ie., new iPod). It isn’t the site you’re visiting doing the scam, it’s a malicious code that’s found an exploit in their code to reach you and your data.
These attacks can cripple your business in two key ways:
- Personal and business computers become compromised, including the data they contain.
- Your company websites can be exploited, causing problems for visitors, and tarnishing your good name.
The best way to prevent against attacks is to ensure all software is kept updated and protected on your web servers, CMSs, desktops, and devices. You can never have too much security either, so hiring the services of a cybersecurity firm is a good idea if you’re not tech or security-savvy.
Ransomware is the bane of every company operating in the digital era. Essentially, malware is used to lock down your data and prevent you from accessing it until you pay the “ransom.” The minute a hacker, even someone inside your company or social circle, the future of your company can be in serious danger.
Basically, no business is too big or small for a ransomware attack and, in lieu of paying data kidnappers off, it’ll cost you thousands to get your network cleaned and operational if you’re hit.
Point of sale hacking
Another type of malware attack. PoS hacking involves infecting a terminal in your store with malware that infiltrates the memory of the machine, sending payments to the cybercriminal instead of you and the financial institutions you deal with. With the continued advancement of mobile-pay methods, this attack method isn’t going anywhere, and hackers will only get better at taking advantage of businesses and end-user consumers.
It’s super important to keep all PoS software updated, employ end-to-end encryption on PoS data, and use two-factor identification when accessing terminal information remotely.
More importantly, accepting credit card payments means that you have to well-equip your employees with knowledge that can help your business protect your customer credit card information, namely PCI compliance (more info on PCI compliance training here.)
Phishing is often used in conjunction with drive-by threats, where a hacker exploits an unsecured website and deploys phishing malware to steal info from trusting users. A common scam is the old faithful “Your computer’s been infected, enter your credit card info to fix the problem for just $29.99!” This and other phishing scams are perpetrated every day. They’re not going away either.
Now, with social media and overly-detailed personal online profiles, such as dating or forum accounts, hackers use spear phishing tactics to gain victim’s trust using readily available information — or information they stole from a company or individual in prior attacks. You can never be too careful about who you offer trust to — never offer information to any unsecured site.
Distributed Denial of Service attacks are nothing new. Competitors use them. Drive-by hackers use them to take over your servers. Unhappy hackers living in their parent’s basement will DDoS you just for kicks! They’re also not going away.
Security of the web servers your company uses to host its websites and email services needs to be top-notch. Encourage everyone to maintain separate passwords for all their web services, including company websites and servers. For best protection against a DDoS, change those passwords persistently, never using the same one twice.
This common attack needs no explanation. Someone inside your organization, current or former, uses their credentials (often outdated due to laziness on yours or your IT staff’s part) to gain access to your servers, company data, and financial accounts.
Next thing you know, bad things are happening outside yours and your security staff’s control. Limiting privileges and logging all activity within company accounts, in combination with terminating privileges when employees leave the business is your best defense against inside attacks.
Education is the best weapon against cybersecurity problems
This post offers 50 online resources you can use to learn more about cybersecurity, while also keeping up on the latest goings-on in the industry. Participate in a PCI compliance training or take an online course on cybersecurity with online learning platforms like Udemy, etc. Of course, hiring knowledgeable IT professionals should be considered essential, too.
Cyberthreats aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, as the systems that protect our data become more complex, so too will the scams that exploit them.