Phishing

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Simple, Sneaky Ways Cybercriminals Access A Small Business’s Network

Sneaky Ways Cybercriminals Access Small Business Networks

Hackers prefer the little guy. The high-profile data breaches you read about in the news — your Facebooks and Equifaxes and T-Mobiles — are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the digital crimes being perpetrated day after day, especially against small businesses. Today, according to a report by the National Cyber Security Alliance, 70 percent of hackers specifically target small businesses. Attracted by the prospect of easy money, they search for those organizations who underspend on protection, who have employees untrained to spot security risks, and who subscribe to woefully out-of-date practices to protect their data. As a result, more than 50 percent of small businesses have been hacked, while 60 percent of companies breached are forced to close their doors within six months.

Most business owners have no idea the danger they are putting their livelihood in by leaving cyber security up to chance. According to a survey conducted by Paychex, 68 percent of small-business owners are not concerned about their current cyber security standards, despite the fact that around 70 percent of them aren’t adequately protected. In the face of an imminent, global threat to the very existence of small businesses everywhere, most CEOs offer up a collective shrug.

The tactics and software available to hackers become more sophisticated by the day, but with so many unwitting victims, most criminals do not even need to work that hard to net a six-figure income. By sticking to three tried-and-tested tools of the trade — phishing, ransomware and the subtle art of guessing users’ passwords — they leech comfortably off the earnest efforts of small businesses all over the world.

So, what has to be done? Well, first things first: You need to educate yourself and your team. Protect your organization against phishing by fostering a healthy skepticism of any email that enters your inbox. Make it a habit of hovering over hyperlinks to check their actual destination before you click. If an email is coming from someone you know, but the email address is different, verify it with the other party. And never, ever send passwords or personal details to anyone over the internet if you can avoid it.

Speaking of passwords, you probably need to upgrade yours. The majority of folks use the same password for everything from their Facebook account to their business email. The fact that this includes your employees should make you shudder. It may not seem like a big deal — who is going to take the time to guess SoCcErMoM666? — but aside from the fact that simple software enables hackers to guess even complicated passwords in minutes, that’s not even usually necessary. Instead, they can just look at the data dumps from a recent more high-profile breach — think the Equifax fiasco — pull your old website from there and type it into whatever profile they want to access. If you keep all your passwords the same across sites, it will not take them long to dig into your most precious assets. To avoid this, implement a strict set of password regulations for your business, preferably incorporating two-factor authentication and mandatory password changes every few weeks.

While educating yourself and training your team on the latest hacking techniques is a great line of defense, it is still always possible for a data breach to occur. Cybercrime is constantly evolving, and staying abreast of its breakneck pace takes a dedicated awareness of the latest protective tools and measures. That is why your single best weapon to defend you against the hackers at your door is to find a trusted technology partner with a background in defending against digital threats. With a proper backup and disaster recovery plan in place, if a crisis strikes, they will be able to help get your network back up in minutes rather than days.

In today’s digital world, leaving your cyber security up to a subpar antivirus and some wishful thinking is more than irresponsible — it’s an existential threat to your company. However, with a little savvy, a bit of investment and a second opinion on the circumstances of your company’s security, you can rest easy knowing that no matter what comes, you’re protected.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Top 4 Ways Hackers Will Attack Your Network

Know Before Think Before You ClickMost small and midsize business (SMB) owners exist in a bubble of blissful ignorance. They focus on the day-to-day operations of their organization, driving growth, facilitating hiring and guiding marketing, without a single thought given to the security of the computer networks these processes depend on. After all, they’re just the little guy – why would hackers go to the trouble of penetrating their systems for the minuscule amount of data they store? And eventually, often after years of smooth sailing through calm seas, they get hacked, fork out thousands of dollars to malicious hackers and collapse beneath the weight of their own shortsightedness.

The facts don’t lie. According to Verizon’s annual Data Breach Investigations Report, a full 71% of cyber-attacks are aimed squarely at SMBs. And while it’s unclear exactly how many of these attacks are actually successful, with the sad state of most small businesses’ security protocols, it’s a safe bet that a good chunk of the attacks make it through. But why? As Tina Manzer writes for Educational Dealer, “Size becomes less of an issue than the security network … While larger enterprises typically have more data to steal, small businesses have less secure networks.” As a result, hackers can hook up automated strikes to lift data from thousands of small businesses at a time – the hit rate is that high.

Today, trusting the security of your company to your son-in-law, who assures you he “knows about computers,” isn’t enough. It takes constant vigilance, professional attention and, most of all, knowledge. Start here with the four most common ways hackers infiltrate hapless small businesses.

PHISHING E-MAILS

An employee receives an e-mail directly from your company’s billing company, urging them to fill out some “required” information before their paycheck can be finalized. Included in the very professional-looking e-mail is a link your employee needs to click to complete the process. But when they click the link, they aren’t redirected anywhere. Instead, a host of vicious malware floods their system, spreading to the entirety of your business network within seconds, and locks everyone out of their most precious data. In return, the hackers want thousands of dollars or they’ll delete everything.

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the hacker toolbox, but today it’s easier than ever for an attacker to gather key information and make a phishing e-mail look exactly like every other run-of-the-mill e-mail you receive each day. Train your employees to recognize these sneaky tactics, and put in safeguards in case someone messes up and clicks the malicious link.

BAD PASSWORDS

According to Inc.com contributing editor John Brandon, “With a $300 graphics card, a hacker can run 420 billion simple, lowercase, eight-character password combinations a minute.” What’s more, he says, “80% of cyber-attacks involve weak passwords,” yet despite this fact, “55% of people use one password for all logins.”

As a manager, you should be bothered by these statistics. There’s simply no excuse for using an easy-to-crack password, for you or your team. Instead, it’s a good idea to make a password out of four random common words, splicing in a few special characters for good measure. To check the strength of your password, type it into HowSecureIsMyPassword.net before you make it official.

MALWARE

As described above, malware is often delivered through a shady phishing e-mail, but it’s not the only way it can wreak havoc on your system. An infected website (such as those you visit when you misspell sites like Facebook.com, a technique called “typosquatting”), a USB drive loaded with viruses or even an application can bring vicious software into your world without you even realizing it. In the past, an antivirus software was all that you needed. These days, it’s likely that you need a combination of software systems to combat these threats. These tools are not typically very expensive to put in place, especially considering the security holes they plug in your network.

SOCIAL ENGINEERING

As fallible as computers may be, they’ve got nothing on people. Sometimes hackers don’t need to touch a keyboard at all to break through your defenses: they can simply masquerade as you to a support team in order to get the team to activate a password reset. It’s easier than you think, and requires carefully watching what information you put on the Internet – don’t put the answers to your security questions out there for all to see.

We’ve outlined some of the simplest ways to defend yourself against these shady techniques, but honestly, the best way is to bring on a company that constantly keeps your system updated with the most cutting-edge security, is ready at a moment’s notice to protect you in a crisis, and can train your end-users. Hackers are going to come for you, but if you’ve done everything you can to prepare, your business will be safe. To discuss how Keller Schroeder can help you develop a comprehensive strategy to protect your business, contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager today.

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