Business owners everywhere are under attack. Many of them just don't know it yet. What's even more worrisome is that they are being attacked almost daily by criminals trying to break into their businesses and steal their hard-earned products, software, information, and money.
No, we’re not talking about your classic bandit wearing a ski mask and breaking a window to get into your business. We’re referring to cyber-criminals who pose massive security risks to businesses all around the world. To help mitigate these risks, you need to be aware of the threats and understand them. Let’s take a look at the top 5 cyber threats facing companies every day:
Cyber threat #1: good ol' ransomware
Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past few years, you probably know a little something about ransomware. You might have even dealt with ransomware in the past and know all about this little piece of demonic code. There are so many articles out on the web about what ransomware is, but for the sake of simplicity, ransomware is a piece of software that sneaks onto your computer and encrypts your files. In 2022, around 70 percent of businesses were victimized by ransomware—an increase from the previous five years and the highest figure reported to date.
The scariest part of a ransomware cyberattack is that, in most cases, it’s not discriminatory when it comes to its targets. This means that the hacker puts the code out into the internet and just waits for it to infect a computer/network. Worse than the shotgun approach of infection, the hackers are getting smarter. When ransomware first appeared in computers, it was very upfront about its presence and encrypted your files immediately. This meant that there was a high likelihood that you had a backup you could restore from. This is no longer the case.
Modern ransomware is more intelligent and more sophisticated. Some current ransomware software will now hide in wait for a certain period of time before encrypting your important business files. You might wonder why this matters. Well, it's written with the delay in hopes that you won't notice the software until you back it up and inadvertently backup the ransomware as well, putting your business at risk.
Cyber threat #2: the classic virus
A modern virus is not that different from a classic virus. The virus is written by a cybercriminal to attack a specific part of a computer system and simply disable it. One of the worst parts about this particular cyber threat is that they only have one purpose: to destroy. Viruses are written by people who just want to watch the world burn. While these cyberattacks are less likely to show up anymore because our antivirus software has become much more efficient at detecting infection and removing the viruses, this security threat still very much exists.
There is not much more to say about viruses except that you MUST ensure that your antivirus software is always up to date and running. This is crucial to protecting your business from this type of cyberattack.
Cyber threat #3: business email compromise
A business email compromise is just a fancy term for someone spying on your email and waiting for the right moment to attack. This is usually a two-part security breach in which a malicious user has gained access to your network through a phishing attack and now waits to spring the trap inside your network. This cyber threat is troubling because the hacker is watching every email you are working on and waiting for the proper conversation to attack. This can last months and even years.
What these cyber-criminals are trying to do is catch a single, sizeable electronic transaction (such as a real estate transaction or a stock purchase), and then they pretend to be you. They will send an email in your tone, with your email address, and request a wire transfer for the transaction (this is why they need to monitor your email. They need to wait until both you and your client are expecting this transaction to happen). The attack occurs when they send a fake email with a link or routing number to send the funds. Once the client sends the funds, the cyberattack is over, the hacker is exposed as they run out the door, and the funds are now overseas and unrecoverable in most cases.
The FBI places business email compromise at the top of its list for lost money, outpacing ransomware attacks over six times. Ensuring that you and your client are safe is as easy as picking up the phone on both ends while the transaction takes place. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
Cyber threat #4: phishing
Businesses are constantly under attack from phishing scams, and so are individuals. How often have you opened your email with messages that look legitimate, asking you to click a link to submit more information? This is the simplest form of phishing. But phishing really isn't an attack; it's a setup for the actual cyberattack. Once the cyber-criminal has the information they need from an unsuspecting employee, they may be able to gain entry into your network or systems and cause untold amounts of chaos.
Phishing attacks come in many forms, from email to phone calls. Ensuring that your employees are adequately trained to detect a phishing threat is paramount to the defense of your business assets.
Cyber threat #5: employees
Yes, you read that right; your employees are a top cyber threat to your business. While malicious employees could easily disrupt your entire business, this is rare. The main problem with employees is that they simply don’t know what to look for.
Training your employees to be skeptical about every external email should be ongoing training that happens regularly. Your employees are your last line of defense before a cyber-criminal can get into your network, but they are also the reason why the doors are left unlocked and opened. Training on phishing, ransomware, cyber-hygiene, and other threats should really be as frequent as reminding your employees to set the alarm before they leave for the evening.
In today's business world, every single business owner and employee is under attack from cyber threats, regardless of whether they know it or not. Finding an IT partner or hiring an IT professional to watch over your network should be as much a part of your business as having insurance. You must protect your assets through diligent determination every single day. Getting started can be an overwhelming task, but Bit-Wizards is here to help guide the way or take on the job of protecting your business from cyber threats.