Cyber Threats and Your Online Business
The internet has allowed countless people to create online businesses. From stay at home parents looking for extra income, to already established corporations that want to expand, the online world is the perfect place to take your business to. However, with this advancement in technology there comes inherent risks.
Cyber threats become more and more advanced as the internet grows. Hackers are capable of locking out your computers and demanding ransom money, your database with your client’s personal data can be stolen and sold, and they can even hijack your computer to use to mine cryptocurrency for themselves.
As a business owner, it’s your duty to protect the hardware you use and the data stored on it. Not only does a secure system help clients and customers trust you with their information, it helps ensure that your profits are kept intact.
Just a single attack from an experienced hacker can devastate your company regardless of its size or funds. With a sufficient amount of knowledge, you can mitigate the risk of that happening, though. So, in this article, you will read about the biggest threats to your company’s cybersecurity. You will also read about a way to ensure that your company is sufficiently protected against these crippling attacks.
Ransomware is a form of malware used to completely lock down a computer to allow the hacker the ability to demand ransom money to receive digital codes to reopen the computer. As an online business owner, you should be ready to face this threat and protect your hard-earned assets.
According to Barkley, the amount of ransomware attacks has dropped significantly and only makes up about 5% of cyber-attacks in 2018. However, the sophistication of the malware has grown exponentially. With the increase of the sophistication of each form of ransomware and the increase in different variations of it, the threat can be absolutely devastating and is actually responsible for shutting down many smaller companies over the past few years.
One of the major factors to worry about with ransomware and it’s increased sophistication isn’t even the ransom money that’s demanded. While paying tens of thousands of dollars is bad enough, the effects are much more varied. It takes time and more funds to reopen the computer that’s infected. Out of all of the companies affected by ransomware, only about 40% are ever given access to their files back. This results in a massive amount of downtime for your company and thousands of dollars spent trying to recover your files.
A good way to combat ransomware before you’re hit by it is to simply back up your files to other systems. The companies that are most often damaged beyond repair by these attacks are usually ones that don’t have complete backups of their files. This simple task might be time-consuming and require more equipment like external drives, but it allows you to switch systems if your main computer is affected by ransomware. Then, you can either ignore the ransom entirely while opting to have authorities deal with it, or at least keep your business running while you deal with the issue.
Essentially another form of ransom, this method relies less on holding your files ransom and more on actually causing physical damage. Using malware, a hacker gains control of your electric grid or other important systems to use as leverage in a ransom. More specifically, they threaten that if you don’t comply with their demands and pay them that they will manipulate your vital systems and wreak havoc on your company.
A popular form of currency with online hackers is called cryptocurrency. It’s an incredibly hard to trace virtual currency that’s similar to bitcoin; Only it’s used for much darker reasons. The problem with mining cryptocurrency is how difficult it is to mine, it takes a ridiculous amount of processing power.
Obviously, the hackers looking to get cryptocurrency through dishonest means aren’t going to buy the powerful hardware necessary to do it efficiently themselves. No, they attack companies like your own and other computers that are expected to be relatively powerful. A hacker boosts their mining capabilities by hijacking thousands of computers at a time and using them to mine cryptocurrency for them. When a hacker has your computer hijacked, it can be difficult or even impossible to use it yourself. You’re also technically open for much worse since they have control of your computer. This can lead to tremendous amounts of downtime for your company.
Data breaches have made headlines frequently over the past decade. From large companies like Sony and T-Mobile to family-owned tax companies, hackers are capable of stealing you and your client’s sensitive data. This data can include Social Security numbers, addresses, credit card numbers, and anything else that’s in your database.
By stealing your client’s personal information, hackers can then sell the information or use it themselves in whichever way they want. This opens up an infinite amount of dangerous possibilities. As an online business owner, it is expected of you to protect the information that your clients provide you with. To do so, you need to have a protection system in place that is as bulletproof as possible.
How to Know Your Business is Protected
Okay, so you know of some different cyber threats and what happens when they hit you? How do you know that your system is sufficiently protected, though? That’s where a penetration test comes in.
A penetration test is an attack that you intentionally set up. You can hire a company that offers PCI compliance and penetration testing to have qualified and background-checked staff simulate an attack on your company’s network. It sounds odd, but it’s a great way to see just how comprehensive your protection system is and whether or not you need to beef it up. Don’t just set up a basic virus protection program and call it a day. Do your duty as an online businessman and have a qualified company perform penetration testing. It can save you and your client’s a ton of hassle.