Cyber Threats on Small Businesses Grow: How to Protect Your Company
In an age where technology is deeply integrated into our daily lives, the risk of cyberattacks on businesses, especially small ones, is heightened. Cybercriminals are continually evolving their tactics to exploit vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access to sensitive information. It has never been more important for both individuals and businesses to remain vigilant, exercising caution in the face of the growing multitude of cyber threats, especially when it comes to safeguarding a business and finances.
According to Deloitte’s Future of Cyber Report 2023, 91% of organizations reported at least one cyber incident in the past year – with cyber criminals, cyber terrorists and hacktivists dominating business concern globally. Below are some threats both individuals and businesses should look out for, as well as tactics to stay safe from cyber threats.
Real-Life Exploitation: Capitalizing on News and Tragedies
Fraudsters are quick to seize opportunities presented by real-life events, no matter how tragic. This means that, in the wake of devastating and growing geographical conflict in parts of the world like Israel and Ukraine, we can expect to see a growing number of attacks and scams. Criminals use these tragedies to leverage the relevance and timeliness and exploit people in vulnerable situations. This manipulation compels individuals to react promptly, reducing their likelihood of doubting the authenticity of the scam.
During this time, scammers swiftly establish fake charities, posing as legitimate organizations in urgent need of donations. They spin convincing stories that tug at the heartstrings of their targets, prompting them to donate without verifying the charity's credibility. Being aware of these tactics is crucial to stay protected against these heartless and opportunistic scams.
Unique Vulnerabilities in the Workplace
Businesses are prone to escalating risks when it comes to cybersecurity. Cyber scammers can target many parts of a business, from the operations to its proprietary information and data, there are a number of things to look out for.
Companies, regardless of their size, present lucrative opportunities for fraudsters. They often store a wealth of data, from financial information to sensitive client details, which, if compromised, can have far-reaching consequences.
Cybercriminals have become more sophisticated and are deploying modern technologies to their advantage. Schemes have become more elaborate, and data driven and being implemented over longer periods of time. Businesses need to implement a continuous learning environment in order to keep up with the latest trends and keep their teams up to date with best practices.
Tactics to Stay Cyber Aware
Cybersecurity awareness encompasses being vigilant against a wide range of threats, including Trojans, ransomware, and other malicious attacks. It's not about completely eliminating risks, but rather minimizing them through data protection, security controls, software updates, and more.
Protect your passwords: A fundamental pillar of cybersecurity is robust password management. Ensure that you and your team use unique passwords for different business applications and avoid reusing them across multiple platforms. Incorporating multi-factor authentication also adds an additional layer of security.
Maintain up-to-date software: Software updates are more than just annoying notifications; they often contain critical security patches to protect against vulnerabilities. It's essential to regularly update all your business devices, from computers to office equipment, to maintain their security and protect against vulnerabilities.
Beware of suspicious links: Clicking on suspicious links is a common method cybercriminals use to infiltrate small businesses. To stay safe, encourage your employees to hover their mouse cursor over links to verify the destination before clicking. Moreover, counsel your team against clicking on links or opening attachments like PDFs from unknown sources or suspicious email addresses.
Ensure purchases are secure: Protocols for authorizing purchases and processing payments should be well-defined and team members should be instructed to meticulously review all invoices. Be vigilant regarding payment requests and tell your staff to exercise the same caution. If someone insists on payment via wire transfer, cryptocurrency, or gift cards, refrain from making the payment, as it is likely a fraudulent scheme.
Look out for fraudulent schemes: Whether it be a billing scheme, payroll scheme, or a wire transfer scheme – understanding how to spot fraud is key. For billing schemes, establish a robust invoice approval process and maintain strict access controls within your financial department. For payroll, implement strong payroll controls, conduct regular audits, and educate employees on the consequences of time theft. And lastly, for wire transfer requests, inform all employees about potential phishing tactics and limit the number of people authorized to initiate wire transfers. All of this can further protect your business from various fraud schemes and is crucial to maintain financial stability and trust among employees and clients.
Always Be One Step Ahead
Understanding the strategies employed by fraudsters is the first step of understanding how not to fall victim to their scams. Recognizing your unique vulnerabilities, whether emotional or tactical, can allow both people and businesses to stay ahead of cybercriminals. Staying diligent by improving cybersecurity habits and defenses for both your employees and business is crucial.
In the digital world, caution is your strongest ally. Always take a moment to pause, verify, and think before clicking on any link or sharing sensitive information, because, in the world of cybersecurity, staying one step ahead can make all the difference.
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