Small businesses mistakenly believe cyber criminals are only interested in attacking large businesses. In recent years, we have seen such companies as Sony and Tesco coming under attack, as well as high-profile figures such as Donald Trump. Hackers have more to gain from such people, right? Wrong. Cyber criminals will attack any business where there is a weakness, gaining a foothold in computer systems to steal, blackmail and destroy.
The following are some of the ways hackers are attacking today’s businesses, no matter how large or small the company.
As the name suggests, hackers are holding individuals to ransom using malicious malware to lock sensitive data behind a firewall. Considering the amount of information and data business owners need to access on a daily basis, this can shut down operations entirely. After blocking access, the hacker will then demand a payment to release whatever content has been held to ransom. A recent example of ransomware was the WannaCry infection that affected the NHS in the UK. By holding the service to ransom, lives were literally on the line. Take heed of what happened, and keep your systems up to date with the latest security and antivirus tools available. It’s also wise to use a third-party IT company, especially if you are unsure on how to better protect your business from attack.
This is a common scam and one which often takes the form of a malicious link or attachment within an email. By clicking on either, login and account information can be extracted by the cyber criminal responsible, giving them access into the computer system. Considering the amount of personal and sensitive data stored within, the hacker will have access to nearly everything, from financial data to customer accounts. By accessing other information, such as that from social media accounts and employee emails, further targeted attacks can take place, to both the business and the connections surrounding it. It’s easy to spot a phishing scam – emails are often poorly written, and the URL is often misspelled. If in doubt, never click on anything you aren’t sure about, use two-factor authentication, and only use encrypted email servers for your business.
Illegitimate tax forms
Tax season is bad enough, but you don’t want to end up paying money or sending sensitive information to the wrong people! Still, this is what happened to over 100 organisations in 2017, when thousands of employees were caught out by the fake emails in another example of a phishing scam. While the tax forms looked legit, they did not come from official channels. To defeat possible tax scams, it is necessary to educate employees into possible data breaches, as well as keeping security tools up to date on all head office and employee computers.
As a small business owner, it is essential to put in place good practices to secure your operations. This includes:
– Firewalling your computer system.
– Using managed file transfer services.
– Updating antivirus software.
– Regularly changing company passwords.
– Training all members of staff.
By implementing these good habits, hackers will have a harder time compromising your business.