5 cyber security risks you should know about
Companies without adequate online security measures in place are ripe for the picking by cybercriminals. Businesses continue to suffer data breaches every single day; being prepared for a cyber-attack isn’t a case of being overly cautious - it’s actually imperative for the safety of your company.
Cyber security risks are always changing, which makes it crucial to keep up to date with how cybercriminals operate. There are five key cyber security risks you ought to be aware of in order to take action that will protect your business and your customers.
5 cyber security risks your business faces:
- Mobile consumer payment system scams
- Cloud cracking
Malware is an umbrella term coined to describe malicious software. Given how malware comes in an alarming variety of shapes and sizes, you may have encountered it under a different name, such as ‘Trojan horse’, ‘spyware’, ‘adware’, ‘scareware’, ‘ransomware’ or simply a ‘virus’.
All these terms are actually different types of malware, which attack networks and computers in different ways.
- Trojan horse: This type of malware has a notorious reputation as it’s one of the worst cyber threats doing the rounds. Trojans get on computers when users inadvertently download; once they are inside a system, they essentially ‘open the back door’ for another party, who can then access, use, share and erase data as if it were their own computer.
- Spyware: This silent killer hides itself in bundled software; once downloaded, it spies on the user and tracks everything they do - including keystrokes.
- Adware: This type of malware overloads a network or individual computer with advertisements, leading to significantly-reduced speeds. It is also exasperatingly elusive, making it tricky to eliminate.
- Scareware: This malware ‘scares’ users into believing their computer is infected, tricking them into downloading ‘tools’ that will supposedly eliminate the infection, when in reality these tools are pieces of software designed to steal data.
- Ransomware: A deeply sinister type of malware, ransomware hijacks a computer or network, encrypts all the data, and demands a fee for retuning it.
- Virus: These are computer programs that literally spread through a system like an infection. Once a virus finds its way into a network, it can self-replicate and poison data. If not dealt with quickly, a virus can take over an entire system.
Spam is the term used to describe messages sent by anonymous parties to hundreds, thousands or even millions of unwitting internet users. Spam usually takes the form of email, flooding inboxes relentlessly.
Some spam is just aggressive, overbearing advertising that’s pushing legitimate - if disputable in terms of quality - products in an attempt to generate sales. But some spam is actively malicious, encouraging users to click links that will lead to them inadvertently downloading malware.
Mobile consumer payments are increasingly popular, and more scams are emerging every day as a result. Some of these are relatively simple, involving no more than trickery by someone posing as a customer. One common scam is for a ‘customer’ who has had their mobile payment declined to complain about it and pretend to call their ‘bank’ - usually an associate about the issue.
The ‘customer’ then passes their mobile phone to a representative of the business the transaction is with, who is assured by the ‘bank’ that the ‘customer’ has sufficient funds for the transaction and that it should be completed.
Other scams include malicious programs that masquerade as mobile payment apps, but when downloaded steal data from the user’s mobile phone.
‘Cloud cracking’ or ‘cloud hacking’ are used to describe attacks on the cloud. The number of advantages the cloud offers in terms of accessibility, convenience and cost-efficiency means an increasing number of businesses are turning to it, and unfortunately - but hardly unexpectedly - many cyber criminals have decided to follow suit.
The cloud as a concept is very secure, so to get inside, cyber criminals look for accounts with weak passwords, emphasizing the importance of creating strong passwords.
Hacktivism is the process of breaking into a computer or network for a social or politically-motivated purpose, rather than for financial gain. While some hacktivists ultimately make a profit from conducting their attacks, their primary goal is to expose an individual or organization by leaking sensitive information.
There is much debate about whether hacktivism, in the grand scheme of things, is a good or bad thing, as there have been several cases where hacktivists have uncovered criminal activities.
Protecting your business from cyber security risks
There are several steps you can take to protect your business from these cyber security risks.
- Multi-layered security solutions
- Keep your software up to date
- Educate staff
First and foremost, put multi-layered security solutions in place and install the most effective firewall you can find. Be sure to encrypt USB flash drives, your wireless network, and any data you upload to the cloud. Backing up on a regular basis will reduce your chances of losing important data forever.
Strong passwords are the first line of defense against cyber security risks. It may sound obvious, but the reality is a lot of small businesses fail to implement a strict password scheme, rendering their systems vulnerable to attack.
Password managers can be useful, but however you do it, consistently changing your passwords, and using a mixture of upper case letters, lower case letters, symbols and numbers when creating them, is the most important thing to do.
Ensure all your software is up to date and that you’re running in its latest version. The most recent software updates have been designed with the most predominant cyber security risks in mind, and only by updating your software can you ensure you are protecting your business from the latest threats.
Don’t forget to make sure you update your web browsers, as this will mean you’re well-equipped to handle threats and evade attacks from disreputable websites.
Take the time to educate your staff on with regards to cyber security risks; make sure they’re aware of the grave dangers the likes of malware can pose to them, their co-workers and your company. Consider bringing in a security expert to talk to your staff, or sending them on cyber crime protection courses so they know what to look out for.
It’s equally important to update and test the knowledge of your staff on a regular basis, given the constantly-evolving nature of cyber security risks. The more clued up your staff are on cyber crime, the safer your business will be.
Protect your business from cyber crime by consulting Primus; the largest independent telecommunication provider in Canada offers a variety of smart, secure communications solutions that can help transform the way your company does business, as well as keep your data safe. Get in touch with Primus today by email or by calling on 1-877-704-4269.