Regardless what size your business is, there’s always a chance of being targeted by hackers or other online threats. It’s important to recognize these threats and make sure your business is able to protect itself against these threats.
I’ve put together a list of 5 every day online threats you’ll likely face as an entrepreneur. Make sure to keep an eye on these threats and inform your business partner(s) and employee(s) of these threats as well.
1. Phishing Scams
One of the most popular methods among hackers and other types of cyber criminals is to target people through phishing scams. By doing so, the hacker will try to either infect your system with malicious software or obtain your credentials or sensitive (payment) information.
The hacker will pretend to be a reputable (and often trusted) company that your business might be in contact with, or at least have a high chance of being in business with.
Just a few days before writing this, I received the perfect example of a phishing email in my inbox, so I’ll share it with you here.
Firstly, I noticed that I had two emails from “Apple Service” support. The name of the word document attached hit the alarm bells immediately. Also, I never use Mozilla Firefox, and also the text is about a transaction – this doesn’t make that much sense. Normally it’s either about a transaction or a new login attempt – not both.
Secondly, I used my mouse cursor to hover over the email address to see what the full email was. Obviously, Apple would never use such a ridiculous email account to contact their customers.
Thirdly, when I clicked on the email (never click on any URL or attachment in these emails!), you can clearly identify some clear grammatical errors. Also, the email ending is super weird, “Apps Supports” would never be written by an Apple official.
Now, we’ve learned that you can identify a phishing attempt rather easy, but I must admit this is a poor one. I’ve seen emails which were put together very well. But, as always, make sure to check the email address and the grammar.
2. Identity Fraud/Theft
Identity theft is closely related to the first issue I described above, yet identity theft is often a result of falling victim to a phishing email. Identity theft doesn’t only happen to individuals but also businesses. Bankrate stated that about two in five Americans have either experienced identity theft or know someone who fell victim.
The purpose is to steal personal or business information and abuse it for fraudulent activities. Therefore, it’s important to actively shield your business against identity theft.
There are several methods available to do so, but start with protecting your business’s website with SSL protection, which encrypts all the in- and outgoing traffic on your website. Then, implement extra security features in your email or outlook account. The encryption will protect all of your (and your customers) identity and payment details.
If you find yourself needing to access sensitive data remotely, then you should strongly consider using a VPN when connecting on to an unfamiliar network for an extra layer of protection.
3. Email Spam
Spam mails can have a destructive effect in some cases. Many spam emails contain some kind of malicious URL or attachment. Spam filters greatly reduce the amount of emails in your inbox but, unfortunately, not every email gets flagged.
A spam email can cause significant damage to a computer or local network and potentially infect the entire network. Avoid opening/clicking these emails at all times and obtain software to shield your business against it.
Malware (malicious software) can infect your company’s system with a variety of different software tools. Spyware (often similar to a keylogger) is designed to monitor and save every single keystroke.
A more popular method for hackers is to infect systems with ransomware nowadays. Typically, ransomware locks up important files on your device or the entire system. The only way to unlock the files is to pay a ransom, often in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency. If you’re not willing to pay the ransom within a given timeframe, the files will be locked indefinitely (you can’t reverse this).
Just like malware, viruses are able to infect your system and cause significant damage. For example, computer viruses, backdoors, rootkits, trojan horses, worms are variants that could harm your systems. In the worst case, a virus infection leads to major data breach or long down time of your servers.
The best way to shield your business against those threats is to install sophisticated antivirus software. Most high-end antivirus software tools are able to block most viruses from entering your company’s system.
But remember, there are always new viruses and exploits on the rise that may be able to target your company’s weak spots. When antivirus software company patch out a known exploit, hackers will try to counter that with new techniques and methods. Some say it’s a never-ending cat and mouse game.