Cybercrime; how it's affecting your business!
Cybercrime is on the rise and this means trouble for small businesses. Cybercrime has been defined as criminal activities carried out by means of computers or via the internet; and when cyber criminals attack, they attack hard. An example of such happened to MtGox, a well-known bitcoin exchange. Due to their poor security measures and alleged poor infrastructure they were brought to their knees by hackers, a total of 850,000 pounds worth of bit coins were stolen from MtGox who was at the time handling 70% of the world’s bitcoin exchange. Because of this MtGox was forced to file for bankruptcy.
No business wants this to happen to them, but rarely do businesses take the proper precautions to prevent cybercrime. UK’s federation of Small businesses (FSB) believe that unchecked cybercrime is severely stunting the growth potential of its members. FSB also calculated that one-third of its members have been victims of online crime over the last year; whether from virus infections, hacking attacks or other security breaches.
Three Major types of Cyber Crime-
A virus can wreak havoc on your business. When the bug infects your system major problems can arise. Below are two examples of types of viruses:
- File infector virus
This is the most common type of virus, how it works is it settles with in a specific file on your computer and begins to do damage. This bug can overwrite the file where it is located, replace parts of the file or it may be executed in place of the intended program or file. This can damage client information, payroll information or even personal documents.
- PoS Dexter
This virus was discovered in December 2012 and was titled as Dexter; it can be a very vicious virus as its target is the businesses point-of-sale system (POS). It consists of customized malware that has infected hundreds of systems in 40 countries around the world. What’s the purpose of this virus? It is to steal data from bank cards used in payments to the company.
Spyware is the next category of cybercrime; spyware is a collection of computer programs that attach themselves to you operating systems in nefarious ways. These programs can suck the life out of your computer’s processing power, track your internet habits and affect your system in many other ways. The overall damage this program does is an after effect of its main mission, it is to serve you targeted advertisements or make your browser display certain sites or search results. At present, most spyware targets only the Windows operating system. Some of the more notorious spyware threats include Trymedia, Nuvens, Estalive, and Hotbar.
Lastly Hackers; they are known to be computer experts who spent a lot of time attempting to breach the security of networks, Web servers and email servers. Usually they use a selection of specialised software to identify weaknesses in the targeted systems and then exploit them.
Cybercrime overall has been referred to as the ‘Achilles heel of the business world’, and the major problem that affects businesses are the high costs involved.
There are going to be high costs for companies when facing cybercrime. Companies that want to protect themselves from online thieves will have to pull out their wallets to do so and the cost Cybercrime acts inflict on a business is always very high.
The costs involved in protecting your business are because you need to identify risks, build new and safer operating procedures and buy protective software and hardware. For a business that has complex and sensitive operations, this often involves hiring a cyber security consultant to develop a customized solution. These can create a fairly hefty price. Protecting your business though is a lot more beneficial than having no protection at all. There is an upfront cost of protection and the systems do have to be tested and monitored regularly to ensure that they are still effective, but the cost an attack on your business could be what destroys your business.
An overall look on what cyber-crime costs for UK organisations is around £3m a year on average, according to the Ponemon Institute’s second annual Cost of Cyber Crime Study. Of a sample of six countries in the global study, the UK was above only Australia with an annual average cost of £2.27m. The US (£7.18m) was top of the list, followed by Germany (£4.7m), Japan (£4.18m) and France (£3.22m). This statistic shows the full extent that cyber-crime costs businesses and economies, it is truly outstanding.
Though protecting your business does come with a price using these methods ensures that your business isn’t attacked similarly to MtGox as stated above. Here are the proven methods in preventing attacks;
- Install anti-virus software
Anti-virus software is designed to regularly check your system from perpetrators, if the program detects suspicious behaviour it will notify the owner and then takes steps to eradicate the issue. Although there is no guarantee it can keep your machine clean as viruses are becoming more advanced, it does provide major protection. But it has been suggested that anti-virus software shouldn’t be used alone, other measure should be implemented alongside it.
- Keep computer operating systems updated
When hackers are on the prowl one factor that determines their victim are systems that don’t have the latest safeguard. As said before, viruses are becoming more and more advanced but manufacturers are counteracting and upgrade their security safeguards often. To keep your system updated it is easier to sign up for automatic updates, these constantly update your security systems without manually having to update it yourself.
- Encryption Software
Using encryption software can be very beneficial in protecting your clients/customers financial information from theft in business transactions. But having personal encryption software can often be very pricey, it is recommended for small businesses to outsource payment processing to a specialised company. This is because ensuring compliance for in-house payment processing can cost at least twice as much as outsourcing for businesses.
- Educate Employees
Most when thinking of safeguarding and protecting their business would not think that their employees would be a factor in the equation but according to cyber analytics in-house employees are responsible for 40 per cent of small business breaches. The situations of the attacks can vary; some are targeted attacks by disgruntled employee while most are due to employees engaging in behaviours that they would not deem to be putting their company at risk. An example would be to properly educate employees on creating strong passwords because cybercriminal who hack and employees’ personal or work account can find their way into a company’s database.
A firewall is a network security device that ensures that all communications attempting to cross it meet an organization's security policy. Firewalls track and control communications, deciding whether to allow, reject or encrypt communications. A firewall is the best defence against Hacking as it defends any mini programs to be implanted in the system.
Though cybercrime is rising and cyber criminals are advancing their methods of attack there are ways to defend your business. Though these methods are costly the benefits outweigh what would happen if your business was not protected. So take control of your business. Good luck.