A financial hit can bring any business to its knees. In this age of cyber warfare, it is vital to protect your business from online scammers. The small and medium enterprises are even more susceptible to cybersecurity threats as compared to the larger ones. They have limited resources at hand. As a small and medium business enterprise, you must use those resources effectively to thwart cybersecurity risks.
As of August 2018, there were 30,263 registered scams for the year, so the problem is relatively big menace for your business. We will today share with you a few steps which you can undertake to protect your business from scammers and other cybersecurity threats.
Businesses which are prone to scams:
There are some industries which are more susceptible to digital and online scams as compared to others. These industries are:
- The banking and financial services is the industry which is at maximum risk. The payoffs for the hackers as well as scammers is highest in the banking and financial industry. The Fintech start-ups are also at risk of these days.
- The manufacturing sector is another industry which is at risk. The types of scams in the manufacturing sector are a bit different compared to banking and financial services. Billing frauds are common in the manufacturing industry. Reimbursement fraud is also on the rise. A large staff in the manufacturing sector makes them more susceptible to scams and cybersecurity threats as compared to other industries.
- The healthcare sector is another one which is susceptible to billing frauds. In many cases, there is also an insider involvement in scams which occur in the manufacturing industry.
Thus, when you look at the industries which are at maximum risk of fraud, these are the ones on which you need to focus. The problem is that scammers and hackers are also trying on small and medium-sized businesses in these sectors. Your business is at maximum risk in these industries.
Many businesses have company accounts which at any given point in time, hold a significant amount of money. Businesses need those to maintain proper liquidity. However, the same makes them susceptible to banking scams. The most common banking scams which most of the companies suffer from are:
- Identity theft:
Identity theft could result in a loss of thousands of dollars to your business. Research shows that the number of identity fraud incidents increased by 8% in the 2017 and continue to hit numerous businesses and consumers. The fraudsters often steal the tax identification numbers and other details of your business to gain access to your bank accounts as well as financial statements.
It is also possible to access confidential information and leak it to the competitors. The potential loss could be fatal for your business. Hence, it is always essential to be vigilant when it comes to passwords, tax identification numbers and other such details of your business.
- Payroll fraud:
Payroll fraud is widespread in more prominent industries and companies. Payroll fraud and false employees taking advance from the company and not paying them back. It also involves employees misreporting their working hours. Payroll scams often involve collusion on the inner side.
- Money fraud:
Money fraud involves issuing fake and counterfeit currency; it is given by the customers to pay for the services or the products. Only when you deposit it at the bank, you will detect that it is counterfeit. Many small and medium-sized businesses are susceptible to this fraud.
Thus, when trying to remain vigilant against banking scams, these are the three about which you should always be alert.
Phishing scams are very recurrent these days. One of the main reasons why businesses cannot eliminate such scams is because they rely on human error to penetrate the systems of the company.
What is a Phishing scam?
A phishing scam involves sending a link or email to an employee of the company which mimics a legit email. Last year, according to Symantec’s “The 2018 Internet Security Threat Report”, 71% of all targeted attacks started with phishing. It often forces the user to visit a page which mimics the login page of the company or bank.
When the user enters the login details on this fake portal, the scammer directly gets those details and can now access the banking portal or the company portal. The link which the user receives in the email or through a message is a fake one and is designed to look like the real login page of the portal.
In many cases, this link aims to make the user download a file which is necessarily a Trojan. A Trojan will let the hacker know every activity which is going on, on the host computer. Many times the malware comes bundled with Trojan.
The malware will spread through the company network and impact a large number of machines. Phishing scams are initiated to accomplish any of the three goals:
- Getting login details of the company portal/bank accounts
- Gaining access to sensitive files of the company
- Using the computers as botnet
All of these activities are illegal and can cause substantial financial losses to the company. Even when the computers are a part of the botnet network, it might open up your business to lawsuits and legal liabilities. That is why it is essential to check the validity of the emails and the links which you receive before visiting them
Cybersecurity principles every business should follow
Fortunately enough, the technology to protect businesses against these attacks is also evolving at a rapid pace. As a business, you need to develop a few rules to avoid the probability of such a scam.
- Secure your networks:
You have to use boundary firewalls and Internet gateways in your systems. It will allow you to secure your networks completely. As a result, your office network will be not an easy target.
- Proper access control:
You have to utilize a hierarchy-based access control. In that case, not all the employees will have access to the company portal and the financial information of the company. It will help you reduce the probability of an attack.
- Malware protection:
You have to use licensed anti-malware software on every computer in your office. Doing so is imperative. You need to eliminate every weak link to protect your business.
- Use encryption:
Your local Wi-Fi network should always use encryption to prevent any intrusion. It will also allow you to block attacks happening from proximity.
- Hire a cybersecurity expert:
If up until now, you have not paid attention to the digital security of your business, it is a good idea to hire a cybersecurity expert. You can even hire a forensic accountant to conduct a proper audit of your finances. It will allow you to eliminate any loopholes which currently exist in your business.
These few steps will help you secure your business against cybersecurity threats.
How to eliminate human error in cybersecurity?
Even if you follow all the steps highlighted above, your business can still suffer a cyber threat. That is because; the weakest link in the chain is human error. You need to eliminate human error by training your employees to avoid such an attack. There are multiple steps which you can take in this regard.
You have to ask your employees to use passwords which are hard to crack through brute force. You have to train them to avoid using the most common and most natural passwords. It is a good idea to use passwords which have a symbol or lower case/upper case alphabets in them.
- Create a proper regulatory framework for handling company data:
You have to make it mandatory for employees to use official emails when at work. You have to create an appropriate regulatory framework for processing company data. You have to educate all the employees for the same. It will help you avoid any lapse while handling company data.
- Prohibit unregulated software:
You have to strictly ask the employees to use only legit software on their office computers. It will allow you to close any loopholes in your network.
- Proper due diligence:
You have to train your employees to conduct due diligence whenever they receive a susceptible link or email. They can quickly look up the phone numbers and email ID using a phone check up tools. Only when the due diligence shows up the phone numbers and names as genuine, they can interact with the sender of the email.
Such tools are also useful in monitoring scammers to avoid them. In many cases, scammers use virtual numbers to gain the confidence of the victim. With the help of such a reverse phone lookup tools, you can ensure proper phone safety and reduce the chances of any human error.
You have to train your employees about the four steps which we have highlighted above. It will allow you to eliminate human error and make your business immune to such scams and cybersecurity threats.
So, if you want to make your business safe from such scams, it is essential to be alert about the most common scams and train your employees in advance.
When you are proactive in handling such cybersecurity threats, then only you can protect your business from the same. It is high time that companies wake up to the increasing risk posed by such scams.
Mark Meyer works as the content manager at Spokeo. His field of expertise includes business, marketing, and self – improvement. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and surfing.