As small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) become more reliant on data, the more they become low-hanging fruit for hackers. This is because naive managers and business owners often think that their companies are too small to be targeted by cybercriminals and therefore don’t invest in sufficient cybersecurity defenses.
What they don’t realize is that IT is an effort multiplier, and hackers can leverage this so that they don’t have to exert much time and effort to victimize people. Specifically, cybercriminals can use harvester programs to scour the internet for email addresses, send malicious emails by the thousands, then let the unsuspecting “fish” bite onto malware-laced attachments or links to fake login pages.
This method of casting a wide array of fishing lines has been so effective that 40% of small businesses that responded to the Canadian Survey of Cyber Security and Cybercrime in 2018 claimed to have been hit by cyberattacks.
In the United States, the numbers from Ponemon Institute surveys are more alarming: 55% in 2016, 61% in 2017, and 67% in 2018. Furthermore, disruptions to normal operations cost American SMBs an average of US$1.21 million in 2017 and US$1.56 million in 2018.
To avoid being infiltrated by hackers, be aware of the tactics they use to get into your network. Among the tools of their trade, here are some of their favorites.
Malicious software such as viruses, ransomware, and worms run rampant across the web and lay dormant in infected computers and storage devices such as USB drives. These can copy or steal sensitive data (such as customers’ account information) and corrupt entire databases.
A particular type of malware can even hold your data for ransom. Once ransomware breaches your network defenses, it can encrypt parcels of data and even lock users out of their own devices until they pay a ransom. Paying this fee is ill-advised, since there is no assurance that the hacker will let your data go from their clutches. You’re better off funneling funds towards beefing up your cybersecurity systems and establishing and maintaining good backup practices instead (download our eBook to learn more about backups).
Perhaps the most pernicious type of malware of them all is the rootkit. This software enables hackers to gain absolute control of your devices. While some cybercriminals merely use rootkits to spy on users (e.g., the hackers log all of the sites that users visit and copy all of the access credentials they enter manually), others steal proprietary files, corrupt documents or insert false ones, and spread more malware into your network.
To combat malware threats, you need cybersecurity programs that are always updated, plus a team that can implement additional cybersecurity measures and manage them all for you. Quarantining infected machines is very helpful, especially against ransomware attacks, since you’ll still be able to run unaffected business processes while you try to recover your sullied devices. Rootkit infections, on the other hand, are very hard to detect and require specialists to remedy.
Phishing and spoofing
Phishing is a scamming method wherein a cybercriminal sends an email that looks like it came from a trusted source, such as your bank. Often, the email will fraudulently claim that there’s something wrong with your account and that you have to resolve the alarming matter online immediately. The email provides a link to the login page of a website that looks like the real deal, except that it isn’t. You’ll be required to enter your username and password, and once you submit your access credentials, they’re immediately stolen. The hacker can then change the required credentials, lock you out of your own account, and make transactions in your name.
Spoofing, on the other hand, entails the use of fake corporate emails and websites to trick people (just like with phishing), but it inflicts damage to businesses in a fundamentally different way. Phishing is a way to obtain sensitive information so that it can be used for personal gain. Spoofing, on the other hand, is a way to deliver malware that could damage your systems as well as place your vendors and clients at risk.
As mentioned earlier, hackers can practically cast a wide net and just “fish” for those who are unaware of their devious tactics. Since awareness is key here, cybersecurity training programs are essential for teaching staff how to recognize phishing and spoofing attempts and what to do in case they indeed receive malicious emails.
Never underestimate your value as an SMB — because the bad guys don’t! Turn to XBASE Technologies to protect yourself against cyberattacks. You can trust our Exponentially Better™ Cyber Security services to keep your data and systems safe from harm.
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