Cybercrime is big business for bad people. We’re seeing a vast increase in hacker sophistication, the frequency of cyberattacks, and a rise in the volume of stolen data on a global level.
At the same time, smaller companies tend to underestimate the value of their data, and many believe that their size makes them less of a target.
That is not true. Smaller businesses are especially vulnerable because they are not equipped with huge IT departments; they’re paying people by the hour who don’t have a lot of experience, and they probably have fewer resources than their larger counterparts.
What are the biggest threats, and how can you protect your organization from them?
Ransomware is malware that installs itself on your computer, encrypting all its files and then demanding payment from you to regain access to them. The only way to recover encrypted files is by using special decryption software.
Always keep your operating system updated with new security patches as they become available, and invest in a premium antivirus software solution. Advanced antivirus/anti-malware software will stay updated and offer real-time protection. Their job is to automatically detect and block any threats as soon as they come in.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks
Larger businesses increasingly suffer from DDoS attacks – a malicious attempt to render a server unavailable for its users. This can be done by flooding the server with requests or sending too large packets. Both of these methods slow down or crash the server, thus resulting in a loss of service for businesses.
Without a dedicated IT department and high-end services, there is no way to stop such an attack, so you must be prepared for one by making secure backups of critical information you need to execute other basic duties until services are restored.
Phishing and Malware
Phishing emails are a common way for hackers to access your computer. A phishing email might come from a trusted source, such as your bank or credit card company, but it’s an attempt by a hacker to trick you into clicking on a malicious link or downloading a malicious file. It can be tough to spot a phishing attempt, which is why your anti-virus/anti-malware and VPN software should be able to block malicious links.
Malware will cause you issues while using your computer; at worst, it can give criminals access to sensitive information stored on your devices—like passwords and credit card numbers—and allow them to use that information for fraudulent purchases online or create fake accounts in your name.
Man in the Middle (MITM) Attacks
Man in the Middle (MITM) attacks are one of the most common forms of cybercrime. These attacks involve hackers intercepting data sent between two parties and manipulating it to their ends. Hackers perform MITM attacks by inserting themselves into a communication channel as an intermediary between you and your intended recipient.
There is only one defense: Virtual private networks (VPNs) are a key cybersecurity tool.
A VPN creates an encrypted connection between your computer, tablet, or phone and the websites you visit. It hides your online activities, such as which websites you’re visiting – even from your ISP. Virtual private networks (VPNs) are a key cybersecurity tool for all workers who use email and the internet.
It’s not always external hackers who cause security issues. A malicious insider, or someone who has legitimate access to your system, can do a lot of damage even without leaving their desk.
The first step in preventing malicious insiders from doing damage is to train your employees about what constitutes acceptable use of company resources and how they should handle sensitive data, and setting up specific policies for what employees are allowed and not allowed to do on any given networked computer system. Make sure those policies are enforced through regular audits of employee activity logs.
A Little Prevention Can Save Your Business A Lot Of Pain
With most employees now working from home, on the road, or in a hybrid model, everyone will face the difficulty of having to send company data via a public network. Public networks are extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
A VPN can help protect you from phishing attacks and ransomware. Still, arguably the most valuable service is securing your and your staff against Man in the Middle attacks while you are out and about, firing off emails, and submitting orders and progress reports on the clients, you visit during the day.
A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the information you want to access, making it virtually impossible for hackers or other nefarious entities to access your data.