Business owners and managers are flat out enough as it is, but unfortunately, these days, they also have to spend considerable time ensuring that their venture is as protected as possible from digital threats.
One part of this is understanding some of the most common cybersecurity risks and how hackers break into systems, steal data, lock systems, crash networks, and more.
Here are some top cybersecurity threats to guard against and tips for helping your organization stay safer.
Ransomware is a type of hacker attack where cybercriminals break into networks and devices, lock systems, and prevent owners from accessing their information until they pay a ransom (even though they often won’t get given access again, even if they do pay the ransom). This type of threat has existed for many years, but hackers are increasingly developing and using complex ransomware attacks that can involve a whole process.
For instance, many scams involve the use of social engineering, phishing (as outlined below), and web application attacks so that cybercriminals can first obtain a foothold in a firm or organization’s network and then spring ransomware on the system after that.
Phishing is a common scam that is getting increasingly sophisticated. When using phishing attacks, criminals send victims carefully designed and targeted digital communications, usually emails, that are designed to look like messages from actual companies or individuals. Hackers trick people who open their communications into clicking on links or opening attachments that feature malware or providing personal information that allows fraudsters to log in to online accounts and networks.
Cybercriminals are now also turning to machine learning tools to develop more convincing phishing messages and send them more often. They are getting better and better at stealing user logins, credit card credentials, identity details, business databases, and so on.
With artificial intelligence (AI) getting better constantly, more and more organizations are using it or third-party programs that utilize such tools. While there are benefits to this, the downside is that systems that use AI, robot-process automation, machine learning, etc., can be more vulnerable to hacker attacks.
Also, cybercriminals are utilizing AI themselves to help them spot patterns and vulnerabilities in software, to solve mathematical problems to decrypt systems, generate “deepfake” audio and videos, and more.
Cryptojacking is a newer technique cybercriminals use, which involves hijacking third-party computers to “mine” for cryptocurrency (e.g., Bitcoin). By using many other devices owned by individuals and corporations, hackers can obtain more computer processing power through piggybacking on systems and find what they’re looking for faster and more affordably. The devices that are piggybacked on slow down and have other performance issues that computer owners have to deal with in turn.
Some other common threats to be aware of include social engineering, where hackers compromise a person and get them to release confidential business information unknowingly, and IoT attacks, whereby cybercriminals take advantage of the millions of connected devices globally to break into smart gadgets and then other networks and devices from there. Plus, hackers are regularly focused on mobile malware attacks, especially those involving mobile banking, as well as the use of emails, photos, videos, apps, games, etc., on mobile devices to steal usernames and passwords.
Tips for Protecting Your Business
While the threats are many and varied for your business, you can take numerous steps to help protect your organization. For instance, start by investing in managed cybersecurity services so that you know you have experts taking care of multiple facets of your digital security for you. Plus, train your team members to update all software programs regularly, use password-protected internet services rather than public Wi-Fi where possible, and install security software and firewalls on all devices.
You and your employees should also use quality passwords on computers and accounts you log in to, with codes containing eight characters or more and a mixture of numbers, letters, and symbols. These should be updated every so often, too. Be on the lookout for red flags of potentially fraudulent emails and other messages and posts, too, such as addresses, logos, and language that doesn’t seem quite right and requests for the submission of private details.
Back up all data regularly to the cloud or other secure off-site locations so you have copies if you face a ransomware attack, and get everyone paying attention to signs of a network or computer break-in, such as slow systems or changed details.
Being proactive in numerous ways will help you stop hackers in their tracks and protect not just your venture’s valuable financial and other details but also your customers’. Take steps today to be safer and have fewer headaches to worry about in the future.