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Idea Box: Five Cybersecurity Tips to Protect Your Small Business from Scams in 2019
Ways to know if your business is vulnerable to cybercrime and how to protect yourself.

By Staff
Date Posted: 1/4/2019

Have you taken measures to protect your business from growing cybersecurity threats in 2019? If not, we’ll share five tips to get you started. But first, let’s look at the costs of cybercrime and a few of the common tactics used by cyber criminals so you can get a better idea of what you’re facing.

According to a report by The Council of Economic Advisors released in 2018, malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 and $109 billion in 2017. This includes cyber activity directed at private and public entities that resulted in data and property destruction, business disruption, theft of intellectual property and more.

Forbes reports that this year, the costs of cybercrime will quadruple from four years ago in 2015, with the cost of data breaches expected to total $2.1 trillion globally this year.


What Are Some Common Tactics Used by Cybercriminals?

Cybercriminals never seem to run out of new ways to steal from others via the Internet. Here are just a few of the tactics they use:

• Phishing Scams – These scams involve an email that, when opened, installs malicious software called malware on your computer. This software can be anything from a computer virus to ransomware that holds your computer “hostage” to spyware that steals information about your organization, employees or customers. Malware accidentally downloaded by employees is thought to be responsible for up to one-third of business data breaches.

• Website Spoofing – This is when a website looks like a legitimate website that you or your employees visit regularly, but is really a “knock-off” made to look like the real thing. And these sites are not always so easy to recognize. Criminals can use scripting to make these sites display the legitimate URL or the real site, even though they aren’t the legitimate site. As soon as a user logs in, then the cybercriminal has their login credentials to use for their own purposes.

• Back-Door Access to Networks – Cybercriminals take advantage of security flaws in business software to gain access to vulnerable business networks. They can also access business networks when employees use personal devices at work that are not properly secured. And that’s not all. Did you know cybercriminals can actually access your business network through any device connected to the Internet? This includes DVRs, printers and smart televisions.

• Dial-Through Fraud – If you have a Private Bank Exchange (PBX) phone system, hackers can gain access to the system and use it to make high-dollar premium rate/international calls, for which you get the bill. We covered this in more depth in our September issue. Check out the article online at: http://palletenterprise.com/view_article/5175/Idea-Box:-If-Your-Business-Uses-a-PBX-Telephone-System,-Watch-Out-for-Fraud


Five Tips to Keep Cybercriminals at Bay

Most experts agree that there is no way to entirely prevent a cyberattack, but there are certainly some steps that you can take to reduce the risk that your business and your customers become victims of cybercrimes. Here are five:


1. Update Your Systems and Software Often

Ensure that your antivirus software and firewalls work properly and are updated as soon as new updates are available. Although it can be inconvenient to have downtime when you can’t use your computers, many updates are aimed at addressing security issues and should be completed as soon as possible. Also, it’s important to perform regular backups so that your data is not lost in case of a breach.


2. Change Your Passwords Often

Use and require employees to use long, complex passwords with a combination of letters, numbers and symbols that others cannot easily figure out and change passwords often. Also, it’s best not to use the same password for multiple accounts. Also, require that two-factor authentication be used whenever possible. This is simply an extra layer of security that requires not only a password and username, but an additional verification step.


3. Protect Your Wireless Router

You should always change the factory admin password (this is different from your network password) on your company’s wireless router. Otherwise, any hacker can easily change your password and install unwanted software so that they can covertly access information on your computers. It’s also a good idea to hide your router’s Service Set Identifier (SSID).


4. Consider Using a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be the answer to securing your business network because it will encrypt all traffic to and from your devices. With a VPN, even if a hacker accesses your data, it’s encrypted so it’s useless to them.


5. Know Your Laws

Each state has different requirements for businesses when it comes to the data security measures that they must take. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your state laws or hire an IT professional to ensure that you are in compliance.

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