Cyber attacks are skyrocketing, with hackers targeting everything from innocent users on mobile phones to big-time corporate networks. According to new research from Accenture and the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of cybercrime globally climbed to $11.7 million per company -- that’s a staggering 62% increase in the last five years.
It’s all too easy to assume your IT is secure simply because you’ve never been hit by a cyber attack. But just because the headlines are about large enterprises being attacked, small- to medium-sized business owners shouldn't be lulled into a false sense of security.
The truth is that smaller businesses suffer most from data breaches, so it's critical that you understand how a hacker might target your business and what tools they are likely to use. Here’s an overview of some of the most common types of cyber attacks your business could face, and ways to avoid them.
Malware is an all-encompassing term for various forms of malicious software, such as computer viruses, spam, worms, trojans, and spyware. Once inside your computer, malware can wreak all sorts of havoc, from taking complete control of your device to stealing confidential data from your network. Attackers will use a variety of methods to plant malware into your system, which can include luring you into downloading a malicious file or opening an infected email attachment.
Advanced email and spam protection is easily one of the best ways to prevent malware infection. Such protective software can weed out attachments that may contain malware and stop suspicious emails from ever reaching your employees’ inboxes.
While ransomware is essentially a form of malware, we think it deserves a place in the spotlight due to its notoriety and devastating impact on businesses globally. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files in a computer, server, or even an entire network, and it prevents users from accessing them until a ransom is paid, usually in an untraceable currency like Bitcoin.
Although there’s no magic bullet to keep your organization’s data safe from ransomware, a combination of multi-layered network security systems, firewalls, and antivirus programs provided by a trusted IT services partner can drastically reduce the chances of infection.
Of course, many tech-savvy users wouldn’t just open a random attachment or click on a link from an unknown sender. Hackers know this, so when they can’t find their way into your systems with conventional methods, they resort to social engineering -- which are techniques used to manipulate victims into giving up their confidential information. These attacks often come in the form of ‘urgent’ emails requiring you to take immediate action, or fake messages from your bank or other trustworthy organizations.
Security training programs are by far one of the most effective countermeasures against social engineering. It’s important to educate your staff to recognize and report suspected scams. Train them to be cautious when opening and downloading attachments or clicking on links in emails -- even the ones appearing to come from trusted sources, since reputable companies will NEVER ask for your private information like social security or bank account numbers over email.
Malvertising is a tactic hackers use to spread malware through online advertising networks that display ads on reputable websites. What makes malvertising so vicious is that unlike other types of cyber attacks, it can push malware onto the visitor of a webpage without any interaction with the ad itself.
Up-to-date browsers and operating systems are the strongest front-line defense against malvertising. Many browsers offer a ‘safe browsing’ feature that shows a warning message when you attempt to enter potentially infected websites. Additionally, you can install ad blockers to get rid of intrusive pop-ups and banners that could pose risks.
Denial of Service
Denial of Service (DoS) is a network-focused attack where cyber criminals flood your network with an overwhelming amount of traffic until it becomes inaccessible to your users. Network outages caused by DoS attacks can lead to service interruptions, costly downtime and hours of lost productivity.
While there’s no absolute protection from DoS attacks, you can diminish their impact by constantly monitoring your data flow to identify unusual spikes in traffic before they become a problem. Configuring your servers to block unauthorized users from accessing your network will also help protect against the attack.
As a business owner, taking a blow from one of these cyber attacks could cost you everything you've worked to create. Surely, it makes more sense to invest in robust security solutions to deter cyber criminals and safeguard your data. If you want to learn more about the many cyber security services we offer, contact us today and we can help you put a plan in place.