There has been an explosion of cybercrime since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic in early 2020. Some estimates put the increase as high as 600% since the beginning of the pandemic. When you hear about these cyber-attacks, it usually comes in the form of breaking news. You often hear about a cybersecurity breach at a massive financial corporation or a ransomware attack on public infrastructure. But 43% of all cybercrime targets small businesses specifically.
Small businesses don’t often have the resources to mitigate the damage of a cyber-attack properly. It’s why 60% of small businesses that are victims of cyber attacks are out of business within six months.
But don’t panic! This post will go a valuable way to keep your small business safe and secure from the ill intent of cybercriminals. The recipe for a solid defense against cybercrime is one part employee vigilance and one part keeping up to date with the latest in cybersecurity software and SOPs. This post is going to focus on employee vigilance.
Keep Your Employees Informed and Vigilant with Cybersecurity
Email is the primary vector for malware infecting your business’s network. 92% of malware attacks start with an email attachment. However, malware designed to infect AndroidOS and MacOS is on the rise. That means phone-based work apps are now another vector for infection. Employees and employers must be aware of commonly encountered types of malware.
Different Types of Malware Cybersecurity
The types of malware out there today are as diverse as they are effective. Computer viruses aren’t the only type of malware putting you and your business at risk.
A basic definition of a computer virus is that it is a string of code that interferes with the way a program operates. A computer virus overrides the existing program and uses it as a “host” to self-replicate and perform whatever other tasks are embedded in the viral code. They can be written to pretty much do anything, which is why they are so dangerous.
Trojans are not technically viruses because they cannot self replicate. However, they are malware designed to look like legitimate software but actually contain harmful code within them. Trojans take the form of pop-ups from anti-virus software, email attachments in phishing schemes and can also be downloaded by unsuspecting users looking to download software from non-reputable sources.
Ransomware is software that locks up entire networks or encrypts vital data and holds it for ransom. The data is returned when payment is made. This type of extortion software is estimated to cost businesses a total of six trillion dollars worldwide in 2021.
Businesses usually pay because they need a functioning network and access to critical data to remain in business. The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack revealed to the US and nefarious cybercriminals that key infrastructure was woefully unprepared to deal with this type of attack.
Spyware collects data and deliver it to another party without consent. This leaves your business’s data, financial records, and other private matters open to exploitation and misuse.
Computer worms are like viruses. Self-replicating and designed to spread. However, unlike viruses, they do not need a host program to do so, and they often target entire networks instead of the functions of individual computers.
How Malware Infects Your System
The Classic Phishing Scheme
As a business owner and as a private citizen, you have definitely been the target of phishing attacks. Most of these schemes are quite obvious to identify. The classic “Nigerian Prince Scam” has essentially become its own meme — however, it still brings in a surprising $700,000 a year.
It is a textbook phishing scheme whereby a nefarious agent tries to get users to share critical information like passwords, bank information, or other data by pretending to be representing a legitimate organization, government, or person. This manipulation of unsuspecting people is called social engineering.
Some phishing schemes are laughable, but others are compelling. Hackers pretending to be from the CDC and other health organizations have taken advantage of many businesses, large and small. These opportune attackers take advantage of current events to exploit fear, uncertainty, or doubt.
Whaling attacks are phishing schemes that attempt to trick employees into providing information to a nefarious actor pretending to be a higher-up from the same company. CEO scams and other whaling attacks exploit a common fear: if an employee doesn’t fulfill the request, they might lose favor with the company’s officers or worse.
Downloading Software From an Unofficial or Unauthorized Source
One of the risks associated with using unofficial or unauthorized means to download software is that you or an employee on your network may inadvertently download more than they intended. If an employee uses your network to download and store unofficial or unauthorized software, you are much more susceptible to malware attacks.
What Can You Do To Keep Your Employees Vigilant?
Holding regular cybersecurity briefings and meetings is essential for keeping you and your employees updated on the latest schemes. Managed IT companies can help your business remain secure through technical audits and simulated attacks. This can help you track data on how your employees handle potential phishing attacks and other types of malware schemes.
To sum, knowledge is the best defense against cybercriminals. In most cases, malware is only effective if the link is clicked on or if the infected software is downloaded. That is why awareness is critical for the safe operation of your business.
What Cybersecurity Software Is Best For Small Businesses?
There are plenty of digital security companies that offer comparable antivirus software packages. When researching what antivirus software is right for your business needs, you should look at what the different companies do not provide instead of what they do.
All the top contenders offer comprehensive anti-virus software that covers a wide variety of threats and vulnerabilities. That is why looking at other features like cross-platform compatibility, customizability, and customer support are vital. Think of these three topics when researching which is best for your business needs.
Some packages do not run on iOS, leaving many Apple-powered businesses out of luck. Examples of top companies that do run on both iOS and Android are Bitdefender and Kaspersky.
You also want to customize digital security features so that they provide the best protection but do not hinder workflow and productivity. ESET offers business packages considered to be one of the most customizable antivirus software packages available. This package also has minimal impact on the speed of systems that run it.
When things go wrong, you’ll need to get issues resolved fast so that your productivity isn’t compromised. High-quality software means little if you can’t get it to work correctly or if it works too well and you get locked out. Out of the top 10 best performing antivirus software packages on the market, only one affords customers live chat support, phone support, email support, and ticket support — Trend Micro.
About the Author
Veronica Baxter is a writer, cybersecurity consultant, and legal assistant operating out of the greater Philadelphia area. She writes for the Law Offices of David M. Offen, a Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyer.