What exactly are Cyber Threats?
We have all heard the terms, hacking, phishing, virus, spyware, malware and ransomware. But what exactly do they mean? In today’s world, cyber-attacks are an ever-increasing problem for businesses of all sizes, especially for small businesses.
Phishing is a way for cyber criminals to get information that you would not typically provide to anyone. Information like social security numbers, bank accounts and passwords. Usually phishing attacks are emails or websites designed to look like the real site, i.e. your banks website or email. Phishing attacks use the banks or government logos, design and look to make you think the email or website you are on is the real thing. In fact, they are simply collecting information that you provide and sending it back to the criminals. If you are not careful, you’ll provide the information they need and never realize you did.
A computer virus is any malicious software program that is loaded onto a user’s computer without the user’s knowledge. Typically, a virus can replicate itself, hence the name virus, by modifying other computer programs and inserting its own code. Once inserted, the programs are considered infected. While not all computer viruses are destructive, most are, and keeping them off your computers should be a high priority. Just as maintaining your own health is important, maintaining the health of your computers, network and point-of-sale devices is just as important.
Spyware, malware and ransomware
Other cyber threats like spyware, malware and ransomware are a form of virus with specific goals or objectives. Spyware while typically not destructive is used to transmit information about your computer and your computer activities. This may include shopping habits, websites visited, etc. But it may also include passwords, account numbers, credit card numbers and more. Ransomware as the name implies is a form of virus or malware that is designed to steal data, lock software programs and computers and disable your ability to login or interact with your computer in anyway. After it disables your computer, the people behind it with demand some type of ransom to release your computer and data.
Nature has provided human viruses with an ability to adapt and change in order to prevent detection or treatment. Just like nature, cyber criminals are working hard to constantly change and adapt computer viruses. Computer viruses are always being updated or changed to be harder to detect and quarantine once they infect your hardware. That’s why most antivirus or malware prevention tools require constant updates in order to stay up to date with the newest viruses out there. Your virus protection is only as good as your most recent virus definition update. It's really not a lot different than getting a flu shot. If you take last year's flu shot this year, it may keep you protected, but odds are you will still get this year’s flu, because it’s different than last years. Without updated virus definitions, your virus protection is not aware of the new threats out there and can’t protect you.
Cyber Security Treats Increase
We all hear about the big cyber-attacks like Equifax or Target. The Equifax breach affected over 145 million customers. The Target breach in 2013 affected over 41 million. Whiles these types of cyber-attacks get the headlines, most cyber-attacks are never even talked about. A 2016 study showed that over 61% of all cyber-attacks hit small business. These never make the news, but they can drastically impact your business.
According to a US Capital Report
- cyber-attacks cost small businesses between $84,000 and $148,000
- 60% of small businesses go out of business with six months of an attack
- 90% of small business don’t use adequate data protection for their company and/or customer information
Cyber threats have increased by 38% in 2016-2017. Cybersecurity Ventures, a leading researcher and publisher covering the global cyber economy, predicts that global ransomware damage costs will exceed $5 billion in 2017 and increase to over $11 billion in 2019.
Protecting Your Business
While ransomware attacks continue to increase, “Paying the ransom is never recommended” according to the No More Ransom Project, an initiative by the National High-Tech Crime Unit of the Netherlands police, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, Kaspersky Lab and Intel Security.
Cyber-crime is a multibillion-dollar business. The criminals take it serious and so should you. A good cyber protection plan should be a multi-prong approach that includes:
- Robust AV (Anti-virus) protection
- Up-to-date firewalls
- Backup and Recovery to ensure data can be restore in the event of a ransomware attack
- Automated AV updates to stay on top of new virus threats
- Keep software (Operating Systems and Applications) up-to-date
- If you suspect a rogue or unknow process is running on your machine, disconnect it from the internet (cable and wi-fi) to keep it from spreading
- TRAIN your employees! Regardless of how sophisticated your cyber protection plan is, your biggest risk is your employees inadvertently clicking on a phishing attack. Train your employees how to detect and react to these threats.
For more information on protecting your business, contact your local IT pros at Secure Solutions Technology Partners today. We can assess your current protection and build a cyber protection plan that keeps your business safe secure.