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A Small Business’s Guide to Cybersecurity

How to Defend a Business Against Cybercrime

As the internet continues to connect businesses and individuals around the world more with each passing day, fewer criminals are committing robberies and stealing information by going to a physical location and are rather choosing to carry out their crimes online. The unfortunate truth of the world that we now live in is that businesses must be ready for cybercrime at all times. Here is a guide to the various forms of cybercrime and the ways to prevent against it.

 

Types of Cyber Criminals Threatening Small Businesses

Cyber Criminal Type 1: Impostors

Insiders

People who are inside an organization and are secretly stealing secrets or funds can be the most difficult criminals to spot, and also the most potentially dangerous to the integrity of the company. Insiders  are already on the inside of the business (as they work there), meaning that they do not need to break through the security systems of the organization in order to gain access to confidential info. The greatest harm of this type of cyber-criminal is that they are essentially a double agent, betraying the entire company that trusts them.

Phishers

This form of cybercrime involves the skills that might be attributed to a traditional conman in a digital setting. These tricksters masquerade as someone they are not – more specifically, a person that the victim might give information to –  and use this perceived authority to elicit private information from the people that they are tricking. Not surprisingly, these people often request credit card or social security number information from their victims, and are not difficult to spot as a result. Anyone who has been contacted by a “Nigerian prince” requesting money has been targeted by a Phisher, and should be wary of requests for money from those that they have not met and established a one-on-one relationship with.

Cyber Criminal Type 2: Thieves

Carders

At the end of the day, cybercriminals simply want to take money or power that doesn’t belong to them; one of the most direct ways that they do this is through the sale of stolen credit cards. These “carders” will obtain the credit card information of someone who is soon to become their victim and then sell it to someone who will use these cards to buy expensive things. It is because of carders and other similar types of cybercriminals that preserving the secrecy of one’s social security number and credit card information is so crucial.

 

Hijackers 

While these cybercriminals are similar to hackers in that they attempt to break through the security systems of a business in order to gain access to private material, they differ in that their goal is not to get in and get out with the desired information as quickly as possible. Rather, they attempt to seize control of websites and then either bring the customers to another site or attempt to cause them some sort of digital harm. , This alternate site (which is often designed to be indistinguishable from the original as to not alert viewers) serves to steal the information of its visitors or automatically download a virus to their computer. These hackers are dangerous not only because they can hurt the clients of a business and the business itself internally, but also because they can harm the image of a business by making its clients believe that they had their info stolen or their computer infected by the business and not a hidden criminal.

Pirates

Pirating digital content is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but has become easier and more profitable as time has gone by. Instead of selling pirated CDs out of the trunk of a car, content pirates now distribute software, movies, music, and more on websites that either provide free downloads or discounted prices on illegally stolen goods (think LimeWire, Napster, etc.). This form of cybercrime is damaging to those who work hard to create quality products for their customers, as it denies them the compensation that they deserve.

Cyber Criminal Type 3: Engineers

Hackers

Although they might use a program that they designed to accomplish their goals, hackers differ from virus programmers in that they desire to actually gain access to computers rather than infect them automatically. Hackers often attempt to get past security and login systems in order to infiltrate the bank accounts, data records, or administrative settings of their victims, doing so for the purpose of gaining control over the people that they are preying on. As is always the case with cyber criminals, this is done so that they can walk away richer than when they started.

Programmers

These criminals often have training in legitimate computer coding, but they use their skills for malice instead of for good. Virus programmers design programs that are intended to create chaos, allow spying, or steal information from an unknowing user’s computer. While their ways of getting the program onto the computers of victims may differ, they are all similar in the fact that they make their profit from creating software that is unknowingly used by the computers of those that they target.

Advanced Persistent Threat Agents

Although the government of the United States does not break into the databases and accounts of its businesses for profit, the governments of countries considered to be enemies of the USA definitely do. These operations, along with the normal financial incentives, are often carried out with the goal of creating chaos within the financial or governmental system in the United States. These threats can be quite difficult to protect against, as governments simply have more resources at their disposal than do small businesses

How to Stop Cyber Criminals from Attacking a Business

Cyber Crime Prevention Strategy #1: Creating a fortress for data/money

Protective Software

If an owner is serious about protecting a business from cybercrime (which they should be), their company’s firewall system should be the digital equivalent of Fort Knox. A firewall is simply a barrier between those inside and outside the organization that prevents unauthorized personnel from accessing confidential data. This firewall should be supported by a system of “multifactor authentication,” which simply means that those who are attempting to view classified information must input more than just a username and password in order to do so. Passwords should be used to join wireless internet networks as well. Finally, using antivirus software to catch viruses and malware on a computer can be a last line of defense against cybercriminals whose goal is to silently install their programs on an unknowing victim’s system. Figuring out how to protect a business against cybercrime can be a difficult process, and having software that automatically handles some of the burden is an easy way to strengthen company defenses.

 

Updates

Along with keeping data in multiple places and updating them regularly so that a hacker cannot delete it permanently by gaining access to a single server, businesses should ensure that they are using the most updated software and web browsers available so that they are as difficult to hack as possible. This could be the very thing that prevents a cybercriminal from attacking and destroying an entire company by easily slipping into their databases or crippling their computers so that they are useless. Building up a defense against online crime truly is one of the more important things that a business can do to prevent failure.

 

Encryption

Those who are willing to deal with a little hassle in order to get an extra measure of business protection against cybercriminals should consider encrypting the data on their computers, phones, and company networks. Encryption essentially jumbles the data into a useless mess so that anyone who shouldn’t be able to get to it will not be able to derive anything useful from what they find. Once the person who encrypted the data authenticates him or herself, it goes back to its normal, organized state.

Cyber Crime Prevention Strategy #2: Using Employee Precautions

Employee Vetting

Because an employee who has already been hired is not going to have to break into the company’s computers in order to have access to confidential info, the best thing that a business owner can do to prevent against internal cybercrime is to ensure that they run extensive background checks on their employees and to look out for red flags that suggest a sketchy history. Encrypting data to defend against crime might also help in this case if it is combined with clearance designations for each employee; because not every employee needs access to every piece of info, only allowing certain employees to access certain databases will be helpful in stopping internal criminals in small businesses.

Company Education

Even if every employee in a company is well-intentioned, allowing them to be unaware of the dangers of cybercrime can result in break-ins by outsiders or inadvertent information exposure by those inside the company. One of the best anti-hacking techniques is to educate employees on company policies regarding internet use, tell them what kinds of cyber criminals pose potential threats to company integrity, and instruct them to be cautious of links, emails, and websites that seem slightly off to them. By ensuring that all employees are aware of what is out there, an owner can protect their small business from online crime.

 

Install Browser Filters

Using web browser filters can not only help to prevent distractions and obscene material from being accessed by employees at work, but can also stop them from visiting potentially dangerous websites either on purpose or by accident. The specific degree of limitation is something that should be discussed from business to business, but it is important for some restrictions to be in place for small business hacking protection. Simply putting a roadblock between company computers and shady websites is one of the best internet crime prevention techniques for businesses, as it at least makes the job of cybercriminals harder and therefore discourages them from targeting the business in question.

 

How to Minimize the Damage Caused by Cyber Criminals

 

Acquire Proper Insurance

The unfortunate truth is that cybercrime is only one of many things that could go wrong for a small business. As a result, it is beneficial for owners to acquire small business insurance coverage that will help them get some of their money back when a cyber-attack occurs. This might include data breach insurance, which gives businesses a payout when their private information or the information of their clients is stolen. See our article on forms of small business insurance for more information on how to defend a small business against potential losses.

Hire a Consultant

Because digital theft defense can be such a complicated matter, hiring a consultant to help prevent cybercrime against small businesses can simplify and strengthen a business’s approach to this potential threat. This is especially important if a business does not have a large internal IT department, as their information may be more susceptible to hackers as a result and they do not have someone worrying about its safety. Having someone who provides educational resources regarding how to protect a business from cybercrime is essential, but everyone in an organization should keep this threat in mind regardless of if they have a specialist working on defending them.

 

 

Defending Your Business Against Cybercrime

Because cybercriminals are making money every second by breaking into businesses around the world, it is important that you acquire the proper protection for your company in order to minimize the chance that you become the next victim of a cyberattack.

Funding the development and upkeep of defense systems is important, but it requires cash – hiring specialists and buying software can be expensive. If your business is looking to become protected against cybercrime but lacks the necessary funding to do so, call Factor Finders today. We can help you acquire the money necessary to keep your company defended against the new and unknown threats of the digital age.

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