There are many types of cyber threats, but what they all have in common is the potential to disrupt or even ruin your business. They can steal or lock up your data, cost you dearly in money and time, and ruin relationships with customers.
To protect your business, you need to know what you are up against. Here is a brief rundown of the seven biggest cyber threats facing your business today.
1. Email Phishing
Scam artists continue to refine their techniques when it comes to targeting individuals via fake emails, designed to elicit information or direct someone to a bogus website link where they can infect their mobile device or computer.
Those phony emails from deposed Nigerian princes who want you to mind their fortunes for them have become far more sophisticated emails, many able to fool targets into believing they’re legitimate. It is easier than ever to be tricked into giving away information that you and your business will definitely regret later.
Small businesses tend to be more likely targets for these attacks, on the presumption they aren’t as careful in watching for this type of deception.
Sadly, it’s working. The vast majority of successful hacks and data breaches begin with email phishing. To prevent that from happening to your business, your first line of defense is well-trained employees who are vigilant in watching for a bogus email or link. But beyond that, you need robust malware detection and prevention capabilities to stop any cyber threats that get by your employees.
Once in your network, ransomware is designed to lock your systems and data behind a paywall, encrypting your information and holding it captive until you meet the hacker’s ransom demand. Sometimes those demands are modest, but other times they ask hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, typically paid in Bitcoin or some other untrackable cryptocurrency.
There are two types of ransomware – lockscreens and encryption. Lockscreens display an image that prevents all access to your computer or device, while encryption prevents your files from being opened. Either way, your business is dead in the water
Although ransomware targets tend to be larger companies and public sector organizations, small businesses shouldn’t think they’re immune to risk. And while no one wants to give into a demand under such circumstances, when your business grinds to a halt because you can’t access your data, it presents hard choices. Just ask the cities of Atlanta1 or Baltimore2, two recent ransomware targets.
Preventing a successful ransomware attack requires prevention mechanisms that can stop malware from entering your network environment by actively working to detect and respond to cyber threats found on any mobile device in your network.
3. Malware and viruses
Whether they take the form of trojan horses, spyware, or “worms,” malware and viruses are malicious programs that give a hacker access to your network and data. They can infect you through a bogus email or when one of your employees clicks on a bad link or is directed to a bad website.
Like email phishing, this technique targets small to medium sized businesses even more than larger organizations.
A successful malware intrusion allows a hacker to take control of a target device, and once they have that control they can disable security settings, disrupting your business, sending spam emails in your name, hijacking your web browser, or stealing personal and corporate information. The damage to your business could be crippling, both in the costs of lost data, recovering normal operations, and repairing your reputation.
Keeping malware and viruses at bay can only be done with robust network security tools designed to detect infections and limit the damage that hackers can do if they do gain access to your devices or your network.
4. Man in the middle attacks
With so many mobile employees relying on public Wi-Fi networks, it presents a target-rich environment for hackers. The man in the middle attack sets up a fake network access point. Your employees may think they’re connected to a legitimate network, but they aren’t, and their data and browsing are being intercepted.
Once the hacker grabs the necessary information, the next step is to gain access and engage in data theft or industrial espionage. The more critical your data is to your business operations, the greater your risk.
You can keep your mobile employees safe by using virtual private network (VPN) services that encrypt data or create safe “tunnels” through the open networks. Your data is never directly exposed to the network through which you’re connecting.
5. DDoS attacks
Formally known as distributed denial of service attacks, these types of assaults on your website and your network are also known as botnet or zombie attacks. This happens when a hacker attempts to crash the network or the website by bombarding it with bogus requests through malware-infected devices.
Unlike many cyber intrusions, DDoS attacks aren’t meant for financial gain. Instead they aim to disrupt a company’s digital operations for as long as possible, making them a popular choice for a hacker aiming to carry out sabotage against a disfavored company. The disruption in service can lead to immense revenue loss and damage to a company’s reputation.
The most recent statistics show that in 2017, a majority of DDoS attacks were carried out by hackers against small to midsized businesses3. And the number of attacks is predicted to reach 14.5 million by 20224. So there is a significant risk for any smaller organization.
The best way to defend against a DDoS attack is with a tool that recognizes and understands the characteristics of this malicious traffic so that the bogus requests can be deflected before they reach a critical mass.
It is sometimes forgotten amid all the new types of attacks, but direct hacking of a company’s network is still a major ongoing risk.
A cybercriminal will use malicious software or brute force attacks in an effort to gain unauthorized access and secure data through a user’s account. And the sheer number of mobile devices in the hands of employees means many more potential entry points for a hacker. The weaker your network security, the more likely you are to be a successful target.
Success for the hacker means exploiting security weaknesses and gaining access to confidential information. Sometimes it is for financial gain, while other times the hacker wants to sabotage a company, disrupting its operations and harming its reputation. Whatever the motivation, it can result in lost revenue, cumbersome data recovery, and a decline in public trust.
To guard against hacking, your company needs solutions that secure your core network and your endpoints – mobile or otherwise – to detect and deflect malicious intrusion attempts
This is the theft of your company’s computing resources so that a hacker can divert your processing power to the complex mining process for cryptocurrency.
Cryptojacking malware runs silently in the background of an infected device through legitimate applications. You might not even know your resources are being used in this way, but it can reduce the overall performance of your workstations and negatively affect employee productivity. The good news is that your data is typically not at risk.
Small to midsized businesses are prime targets for this intrusion, since they typically have a limited ability to detect the telltale spikes in workstation activity that would indicate cryptojacking. And the malware that enables it is purposely designed to run undetected for as long as possible; the longer it runs, the more mining it does and the more cryptocurrency it can generate for the hacker.
With one in four companies having been cryptojacked in 20185 the threat is real and growing. You can fight it with solutions that combine anti-malware capabilities and constant monitoring of your IT environment to spot any questionable behavior.
For a deeper understanding of the cyber threats wreaking havoc today and what you can do to protect your business, check out our new interactive cyber threats tool – Top 7 Cyber Threats. It explains each of these threats in detail, what they actually do, and provides you with insight on how to decrease your risk.