Computer and internet crimes, famous as cyberattacks, can wreak havoc on a business and bring it to its knees. A cyberattack is a deliberate attempt by unauthorized third parties to penetrate computer networks and information systems.
Hackers engage in internet crime to steal sensitive data, defraud people, or to disrupt business operations in organizations. According to the FBI, businesses and individuals lost more than $3.5 billion in 2019.
Today, it’s almost impossible to operate without utilizing computer networks in some way, making businesses highly susceptible to cybercrime. Sadly, cybercriminals are launching more sophisticated techniques every day. If your business gets involved in a cybersecurity lawsuit, consult a reputable law firm immediately.
Cybercrimes and Preventive Measures
Understanding potential cyber threats to your business can help you to develop an effective response plan. Here is a breakdown to get you started.
Experts say that more than half of all internet crimes involve malware (malicious software). Malware is a program intended to penetrate and damage computer systems stealthily. After infiltration, it allows the attacker to gain login credentials and sensitive business information.
Spyware, viruses, trojans, worms, rootkits, and the highly dreaded ransomware are all forms of malware. Ransomware encrypts data on your computer and demands a ransom that you have to pay to restore your files.
To reduce the risk of malware attacks, run the latest versions of operating systems, antimalware software, applications, and plugins.
This type of cybercrime relies more on human vulnerabilities than technical sophistication. The attacker approaches an individual and lures them to perform actions like revealing sensitive data. For instance, an impersonator can call asking for some information to fix a falsified issue with your bank account.
The most common type of social engineering attack today is phishing. It involves sending deceptive messages via email and other digital channels to trick the recipients into revealing confidential information. It could come links to malicious websites or attachments containing malware.
Social engineering tactics are unpredictable, but you can protect your business as follows:
- Don’t open email attachments and links from unknown senders
- Type URLs instead of following links
- Be attentive when answering calls from strangers
- Don’t provide too much business information on your site
- Discourage your employees from listing their contacts online
- Never open unfamiliar storage devices like USB sticks
Web attacks are attractive to cyber crooks since web apps are easily accessible online. Hackers find web-based applications lucrative because they store tons of valuable data like credit card numbers, financial information, and personally identifiable information (PII).
Some of the most devastating security breaches and financial losses in history have resulted from web attacks such as Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and SQL injection.
An SQL injection attack affected Heartland Payment Systems in March 2008 and exposed 134 million credit cards. The breach was not discovered until January the following year when Visa and MasterCard reported suspicious transactions.
After investigation, Heartland Payment Systems paid about $145 million in compensation. The company also lost the privilege of processing credit cards from leading providers until May 2009.
Web attacks have high success rates since many developers focus more on functionality than security when creating applications. You can mitigate the risk by hiring reputable web developers and doing business with trusted vendors.
Distributed Denial of Service
A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is the deliberate flooding of a network, website, server, or service with massive traffic to choke the bandwidth. The attacker uses botnets and hijacked computers to issue overwhelming requests to the targeted resource. As a result, the bandwidth gets clogged, preventing legitimate users from accessing services.
DDoS prevention requires specialized software services that identify and block unwelcome traffic. You can perform a few tweaks to your security hardware configurations. For example, set the router or firewall to reject DNS responses and drop ICMP packets from outside your network.
Impact of Computer Crime on Businesses
Cybercrime can lead to loss of business and taint your reputation. Take the example of DDoS attacks. When customers can’t browse the merchandise on your ecommerce website or cannot access the site altogether, they’ll shop elsewhere. A DDoS attack can paralyze your business for hours, days, or indefinitely.
Worse incidents would be criminals stealing customer data and exploiting it for fraudulent activities. Your business can end in cash flow problems and potentially close down after compensating the victims.
Besides, you can face lawsuits and fines if the amount of stolen data is enormous. The legal process can take years to settle and drain your financial reserves.
Furthermore, customers will be reluctant to do business with you after a cybersecurity incident, especially if your competitors haven’t had such cases. Studies show that 78 percent of consumers would cut online engagement with a brand after a data breach.
Protecting your company from cybercrime is not as costly as failing to do it. The consequences can out you out of business.
If your organization holds sensitive data, hire a cybersecurity consultant to customize a solution.