2020 is a year of unprecedented change, and cybersecurity is no exception. The gap between cybersecurity measures and the sophisticated manner of completing cyberattacks continues to widen during a time when more businesses must rely on online culture to complete their daily business tasks. As a small business owner, you must remain vigilant in protecting your business information and systems. Here is what to know about the latest cybersecurity trends.
Top Cybersecurity Threats and Trends
Cybersecurity attacks continue to evolve and become more effective and more difficult to detect. All types of fraud have increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most significant cybersecurity threats and trends for 2020 include:
Phishing Scams Will Become Even More Common
For the first half of 2020, there were at least 146,994 phishing attacks, according to APWG’s Phishing Activity Trends Report for Q2 2020.
Phishing scams typically involve an email from a purported executive at the company who asks an underling to provide confidential information or transfer funds. These emails are often highly believable and may contain the business’ logo. With more tasks being completed online in response to social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders, the landscape of many small businesses is ripe for this type of attack.
Organized Hacking Attacks Will Increase
Hacking attacks that involve a network of computers and criminals will continue to increase and originate from various countries. Small businesses must be vigilant about taking steps to protect themselves from these organized attacks.
Ransomware Attacks Will Grow
Some phishing attacks lay the groundwork for ransomware in which cybercriminals gain unauthorized access to a business’ account or system and then encrypt data so the business owner cannot regain control unless he or she pays a ransom. Ransomware attacks have steadily grown over time, and ransomware caused by phishing emails grew 107% in 2019 over 2017, according to Purple SEC. The same organization reported that 81% of cybersecurity experts believed the number of ransomware attacks would increase further.
Mobile Cyber Attacks Will Grow
Many businesses operate their business through a phone and communicate with their employees through this medium. However, this may not always be safe since mobile devices tend to have less secure connections and often lack up to date firewall protections. One report found that attacks on mobile devices increased 42% year-over-year.
More Small Businesses Will Invest in Cybersecurity Measures
Approximately 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses. This may be because these businesses lack the resources or know-how to protect against these attacks. Some small business owners mistakenly believe that they are too small to attract the attention of cybercriminals. When these small businesses encounter a cyberattack, the average cost for a small business is $200,000. 60% of targeted small businesses go out of business within six months.
Since it is much less expensive to prevent a cyberattack than to respond to one, prudent small businesses will spend more for cybersecurity. The ISACA State of Cybersecurity 2019 report showed that 55% of respondents planned on spending more for their cybersecurity. AI is becoming increasingly efficient at detecting potential security threats and going through massive amounts of data to spot suspicious behavior.
How to Prevent Phishing Attacks
The primary method to prevent a phishing attack is not to open, click on, or download an attachment from a suspicious sender. Business owners may consider paying for ongoing education and training for staff to learn about the techniques that are commonly used by criminals that use these attacks because employees are a first line of defense.
Other methods to prevent phishing attacks to your business include:
- Update security software automatically – Avoid letting spam messages filter through your system by setting your software to update automatically, which will often include security patches. Use this security measure for your computer as well as your mobile devices.
- Be careful what you download – Teach your staff not to download attachments from anyone you do not know or even from people that may have forwarded the message to you since their email accounts may have been compromised.
- Use an email lookup tool – An email lookup tool allows you to check the owner of a particular email address. You can see if that email is really attached to the person it purports to be and whether it has been involved in previous scams.
How to Prevent Other Cyberattacks
As the owner of a small business, it is incumbent upon you to protect your systems and prevent infiltration from cybercriminals. Some ways that you can prevent other cyberattacks include:
- Limit access to confidential information to only those team members who need access and log access to sensitive data
- Prevent your financial data by adding file integrity monitoring on payment sites and patching coding payment applications
- Add two-factor authentication on customer-facing applications
- Maintain firewall protections on your computers, routers, and networks
- Install and update antivirus software frequently
- Use the most up to date operating system since developers are constantly adding security patches to better secure computers
- Install and update anti spyware technology
- Train your staff on possible cybersecurity risks and how to detect them
- Back up your data so that if your system is compromised, you will quickly be able to restore it
You and your IT department can also preempt potential attacks by developing a cyberattack response plan ahead of time. If your system or computer is targeted, you can go through the policies you established ahead of time to respond to the crisis. You may also want to report the attack to local law enforcement. There are also insurance policies that can help pay for damages resulting from these types of attacks.
The year 2020 has brought about unprecedented change. Business owners who are able to continue efficient operations and avoid disruption may be able to gain a competitive edge during this challenging time. Follow the tips above to detect and prevent cyber fraud.
Emily Andrews is the marketing communications specialist at RecordsFinder, an online public records search company. Communications specialist by day and community volunteer at night, she believes in compassion and defending the defenseless.