Cybersecurity has become a major concern for businesses, individuals, and organizations. While some threats seem easy to resolve, others can be highly malicious and cause substantial losses and damage to a business of any size.
In 2022, the cost of financial damage caused by cybercrime in the United States amounted to $10.3 billion, a $3.4 billion increase from the year before.
The genuine threats presented by cybercrime underscore the significance of cybersecurity efforts. Proper education and secure habits help businesses mitigate damages and protect their assets.
Here are five of the most common and dangerous cybersecurity threats your business could face and how to arm your team against them:
1. Phishing and Smishing
Phishing is one of the most prevalent types of cyberattacks today. Smishing is a variant of phishing that occurs primarily through SMS or text messages.
You’ve probably received emails and PSAs warning you about clicking suspicious links to avoid falling victim to phishing attacks. These warnings are there for good reason. In the last quarter of 2022, there were around 1.35 million unique phishing sites detected worldwide.
Phishing and smishing attacks aim to steal sensitive information, like credit card details, login credentials, full names, and addresses. The attacker could turn off security controls, enabling them to access confidential data.
Cybercriminals usually pose as banks, government agencies, or other trustworthy organizations to gain users’ trust and access sensitive information.
Some ways to protect your business or organization from phishing attacks include:
- Using strong spam filters
- Using multi-factor authentication on company accounts
- Educating members and employees about phishing attempts and other suspicious communications
Malware, short for malicious software, is a piece of software or code designed to infiltrate, damage, or disrupt computer systems, networks, or devices. Cybercriminals create malware to steal sensitive information, cause harm, or conduct other illegal and malicious activities.
There are several types of malware, each with specific characteristics and purposes. Here are some of the most common malware categories:
- Trojan horses
Various types of malware employ different modes of attack. For this reason, it’s crucial to conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment to evaluate your system’s readiness to respond to such threats.
Here are some measures your organization can take to protect against malware:
- Installing and updating antivirus and anti-malware software
- Updating your systems regularly
- Conducting security scans and network security assessments
- Educating employees on malware and cybersecurity precautions
Ransomware is malware with unique and possibly devastating impacts on businesses and organizations. It encrypts a victim’s files or locks them out of their system. Then, the attacker demands payment in exchange for a decryption key.
Some companies that fall victim to ransomware end up paying their attackers. However, such payment doesn’t guarantee the return of access or information.
Businesses of all sizes could become targets of ransomware attacks. Small to medium-sized enterprises could have more trouble recovering from ransomware attacks as they may not have the resources to perform extensive data backups.
Aside from taking general precautions against malware, here are other ways your organization can boost protection against ransomware attacks:
- Backing up your data regularly
- Tracking all machines connected to your network
- Creating incident response plans for possible attacks
4. Email Compromises
A business email compromise (BEC) is a cybercrime in which attackers or scammers use email to defraud a company.
This cybercrime can be pretty sophisticated. Criminals begin hacking into a company’s systems to learn about payment systems and processes. Then, they email employees to make payments to the scammer’s accounts instead of legitimate parties.
BECs can be challenging to identify, as attackers often replicate genuine requests and communications.
Companies could lose a lot of money to these scams. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 21,832 BEC complaints in 2022, with losses amounting to over $2.7 billion.
To protect your business against BEC, consider the following precautions:
- Creating and using strong passwords for all devices and accounts
- Installing and maintaining security software
- Using multi-factor authentication for all accounts
- Conducting verification processes in person or over the phone
5. Insider Threats
People who work in your company or organization and some of your business partners may have access to sensitive information. While many of these people can be trustworthy, there is always a chance that some might have malicious intentions.
These people might exploit their knowledge of sensitive data and company processes to commit fraud and other cybercrimes. No matter their chosen method, insider threats could cause significant damage to your business.
Insider threats can be challenging to manage, as people have different motivations and behaviors. However, here are some ways to help mitigate potential damages caused by insider threats:
- Developing a security awareness culture in the workplace
- Limiting access to critical assets and information
As technologies develop, cybercriminals and other malicious actors find more sophisticated ways to steal information and gain unauthorized access to company networks and devices. Companies should be able to respond accordingly.
Regularly conducting cyber risk assessments and updating one’s security infrastructure and response plans is essential to keep your company safe from these threats. Keeping sensitive company information secure is critical for ensuring the welfare of your employees, partners, customers, and clients.