Cybercrime – Is Your Business A Target?
Thanks to a recent public hacking attack on communications giant TalkTalk, businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the need to stay safe online. The internet has opened up a whole universe of possibilities and ways to connect, but not everyone will use these connections wisely. Instead many people have made it their goal to use the internet to target individuals and businesses for their own, often illegal purposes. To avoid being caught, you need to understand what cybercrime is and how to protect yourself against it.
What Is Cybercrime?
In its simplest terms, cybercrime is a crime committed using computers or the internet. The thing that often confuses people is the fact that a crime can begin online but have very serious real world consequences for the victim. There are generally 2 types of cybercrime – single event or sustained. Single event cybercrime is often designed to get someone to download malware (through phishing emails or flaws in web browser security) in order to give criminals unlimited access to their data, which they can then steal and use.
Sustained cybercrime tends to be much more serious, covering areas like cyber stalking, harassment, stock market manipulation, complex corporate espionage, extortion or child predation. These sustained attacks tend to be an ongoing series of events involving repeated interactions with the target in order to achieve a long term goal. For example, a sustained attack might involve setting up a fake website, sending out repeated emails to the target to draw them on, multiple conversations via helpdesk chats or personal emails followed by the transfer of files or funds to the attacker.
How Do I Prevent Cybercrime In My Business?
For businesses, the second type of cybercrime is pretty irrelevant. You need to keep an eye out for things like corporate espionage, but for the most part the activities undertaken in sustained cyber-attacks are targeted to individuals, not businesses. Instead, you need to be concerned with keeping criminals away from your customer and business data – and believe me they really want to get their hands on it. Businesses, particularly small and medium sized ones, have seen a huge spike in attacks aimed at them in the last year, largely because criminals know they are unprepared and unaware. A few ways you can protect your business against attack are:
- Create A Policy. Your directors should liaise with your IT department in order to create a set of simple and easy to administer policies around data protection and cyber security.
- Learn From Your (And Others) Mistakes. Don’t ignore the news. Look into why big businesses such as TalkTalk have fallen victim to cybercrime. Understand what the flaw in their system was, and make sure you don’t have the same problem. Cyber criminals are always looking for and exploiting loopholes, and other businesses mistakes could help you spot some in your own security.
- Increase Employee Awareness. Make sure all employees are aware of the risks of cybercrime and on constant alert. Training should be given on how to spot phishing emails or phone calls, what links they should be clicking on and what sorts of scams they should be aware of.
- Keep All Systems Up To Date. Security patches are created for a reason – they help seal up holes in your systems defences. Software developers are always looking for holes in their own software that hackers could exploit, and as soon as they find one they issue a patch. If you don’t then install that patch you could risk attack.
- Write Secure Passwords. Many hackers will attempt to gain access to password protected systems simply by going through a list of commonly used passwords. ‘Password’ or ‘Password1’ isn’t going to cut it here. Make sure all passwords are at least 8 characters long and contain at least capital letter and a number to make them harder to crack. Change them regularly and don’t use the same password twice.
- Hire A Professional. If you don’t have an IT department, or they could use a little support, hire a professional in IT security to help you set up and maintain secure systems for your business. Professionals such as us have decades of experience protecting business systems, so we know how to create solid systems and walls that keep the hackers away from your data.
For more information on keeping your business secure, or to chat to a professional about your concerns, just get in touch with one of our cyber security experts for a free consultation.