Cybercrime costs online businesses anywhere between 500 billion to 1 trillion dollars in damage annually. Given these numbers, it is tempting to think that big companies like Microsoft, Alibaba, and major world banks comprise a majority of the victims. They do not. That distinction goes to mom and pop shops. These take the biggest hits.
A 2019 survey by Verizon that tracked cybersecurity incidences across all industries in the US found that small businesses accounted for 43% of all reported security breaches.
The reason is simple. Compared to the likes of Microsoft, Amazon, and Yahoo, mom and pop shops don’t have teams of cybersecurity experts working day and night to ward off potential threats. Most don’t even know that small business websites could be infected with malware, let alone having cybersecurity training.
If you are a small business owner, you don’t want to ignore the risks of cybercrime because when your business gets targeted, the consequences can be very damaging. There are reports of malware infections that can redirect traffic from your website to porn sites, for instance. Other attacks can steal your data and sell it competitors, and then there is ransomware like WannaCry that will lock your site until you cough up some bitcoins or whatever cryptocurrency is asked of you.
In short, the dangers are many and varied, which makes cybersecurity a matter of planning for the worst, but hoping for the best. Here is a list of some of the cybersecurity threats to be on the lookout for:
Ransomware is a type of software that will lock down your computer, until you send money to a specified address. The most recent of such an attack of this kind involved ransomware by the name WannaCry, which affected thousands of computers in over 150 countries. Damages from WannaCry ransomware are estimated to be anywhere between hundreds of millions of dollars and several billion.
A trojan behaves much like the Trojan horse that was gifted to Troy by the Greeks during the Trojan War. Greek soldiers hid within the horse and were thus able to penetrate the walls of Troy and to bring down the city in the process. Similarly, a trojan will infiltrate your computer by disguising itself as genuine software only to later hijack it, steal your data, or destroy your files.
Worms are types of malware that can spread through computer networks by replicating themselves. WannaCry, the ransomware that we have just talked about is a kind of a worm-a cryptoworm for that matter.
Keylogger is a very dangerous type of malware because it works by tracking your keystrokes, storing them on your computer and later sending them to a hacker who then uses the information to get your passwords and other private information.
If you are a small business owner, the consequences for this kind of attack could be dire. A hacker might, for instance, get logins details to your site and redirect all your money to their account, or worse lock you out of your website in perpetuity.
Spyware is malicious software that is used by hackers and government agencies to snoop on user activity. It can track keystrokes, harvest data from a computer, collect browser history, and so on. Some spyware programs are even capable of interfering with your computer’s security settings, so that it becomes vulnerable to more attacks.
A rootkit is a software that is designed to allow unauthorized remote access into another computer. With the use of rootkits, hackers can access files, delete programs, and even send sensitive user information to a hacker’s address. Such information can then be used for blackmail.
How to Protect Your Computer from Malware
When it comes to cybersecurity, the best form of defense is prevention. You need to have your computer and network of sites equipped with the best cyber defenses on offer in the market. It might cost you a few dollars, but considering the risks involved, the decision is worth every penny. Here are tips to help you keep your online business safe from cybercrimes:
1. Antivirus Program
Antivirus software will detect any malicious software and activity on your computer and get rid of the threat. It is worth noting that antivirus programs are not created equal- some are better than others. That is why you should look for a high-end antivirus software like Outbyte Anti-Malware to protect your computer and network from malicious attempts at infiltration.
2. Use a Password Manager
Most people are guilty of using the same password over multiple online accounts, and this, if anything, this is very risky. It only requires a hacker or any other malicious actor to have access to this one password, and all will come crashing down on you.
Cybersecurity experts recommend the use of a password manager instead. Also, don’t leave passwords on your computer’s browser; anyone with access to the network can read them.
Here are some of the features of a good password manager:
- Generates and manages your passwords
- Auto fills forms for you
- Note taking
- Web browsing
- Diagnoses digital security
- Sets up emergency contacts
3. Set Up Email Account Recovery Methods to Protect Against Phishing Attacks
A phishing attack is a social engineering attack that attempts to gain sensitive information, such as passwords, username, and credit card transaction details by duping a computer user to act in a way that initiates the attack. Most phishing attacks are carried out in the form of email campaigns that require the email receivers to click a malicious link.
Users of Gmail and similar email services can shield themselves from phishing attacks by setting up email recovery methods, such as using a phone number for authentication purposes. Surveys have shown that using double authentication can prevent most phishing attacks.
4. Back Up Your Data
Most web hosting service providers offer data protection packages for a reasonable amount. Consider adding this fee to the hosting package that you are already subscribed to. That way, any time your data is compromised, you won’t struggle to get it back.
5. Subscribe to the Services of a Website Security Company
Web security companies will monitor your site for attacks and any suspicious behaviors. Some will even provide cybersecurity training, so that you can act on some threats even when their support is withdrawn. This will, of course, cost you a few dollars a month, but considering the potential damages to your online business should a hacking attempt be successful, the small monthly stipend is worth it.
6. Get an SSL Certificate for Your Site
A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate creates a secure link between a website and a visitor’s browser. It ensures that data exchanged between the visitor and the site remains secure and that hackers cannot get their hands on it. SSL secured sites are tough to hack, and any online business owner should strive to get an SSL certificate.
In conclusion, online businesses all over the world are at risk from malicious cyber actors. It is up to you as the business owner to stay vigilant and to adopt the latest cybersecurity defenses that will ward off hackers and other malicious actors. You also need to keep yourself informed on what can malware do. That way, it will be easier for you to take the steps that will keep you safe.