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Three Major Cyber Threats to Businesses

Cybersecurity threats have continued growing, in fact they been ramping up during 2020, and the trend according to experts is that the risks will continue to grow at an exponential rate.

And small to mid-sized firms that think they will fly under the radar of cyber threats are sadly mistaken, as they are usually easier pickings for criminals. Worse yet, one incident could put a firm out of business.

To protect your company from attack, here are three cybersecurity threats you should prepare for now.


Ransomware attacks

In a ransomware attack, hackers access your data and hold it hostage until you pay some type of ransom. This means business owners have to choose between losing their data or paying a hefty sum.

Ransomware is usually delivered through phishing e-mails that appear legitimate at first glance.

The e-mail generally includes an attachment or link containing malicious code and once an unsuspecting employee clicks on it, they unleash the code first into their workstation and later into your network. 

To protect against ransomware, the Small Business Administration recommends that you and your staff:

  • Verify web addresses before downloading e-mail attachments.
  • Don’t give out personal information about your company to unsolicited callers.
  • Don’t give out financial information about your company over e-mail.


Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks

These are relatively new attacks when cyber criminals intercept and alter incoming traffic. Once intercepted, the hackers redirect the victim’s browser to a malicious website where they can steal and even change sensitive information.

These MITM attacks are usually initiated by malware. 

The best way to combat MITM attacks is by using some type of endpoint authentication to make it harder for hackers to intercept traffic. For instance, passwords are becoming increasingly unreliable, so two-factor identification methods (like a text message with a secret code being sent) can provide additional security.


Lack of awareness

Ninety percent of the time when hackers gain access to a company’s database and network, it’s due to human error, typically when an employee clicks on a link or opens a malicious attachment to an e-mail, unleashing the attack.

Other ways criminals gain access include when an employee leaves a laptop in an unsecured location, or they send sensitive company information to an unintended recipient.

The best way to thwart cyber criminals is by training your employees on cyber-security best practices:

  • The creation of strong passwords and changing passwords regularly.
  • Never installing unauthorized software.
  • How to stay safe online and on social media.
  • Strategies for responsible e-mail usage.
  • How to keep their devices secure while they’re at the office and away.
  • What to do in the event of a cyber attack.


The final backstop

Any firm that stores sensitive information and company intellectual property on a network may want to consider a cyber insurance policy. As threats have evolved, so have insurance products – data breach insurance and cyber liability insurance – and even they will vary in terms of coverage from one insurer to the next:


Data breach insurance – This will cover your business if you have a breach of personal identifiable information or personal health information is lost or stolen, either by hackers or a forgetful employee losing a laptop. Policies will usually cover:

  • Costs of notifying affected customers, patients or employees.
  • Costs of hiring a public relations firm.
  • Costs of offering credit monitoring services to data breach victims.


Some policies will also include or offer as a rider extortion coverage, which helps cover the amount you paid if someone has taken your business’s data and demanded a ransom.


Cyber liability insurance – This helps cover financial losses due to cyber attacks or other tech-related risks, as well as privacy investigations or lawsuits following an attack. It will usually cover:

  • Legal services.
  • Notification expenses to alert affected customers and employees that their personal information was compromised.
  • Extortion paid to recover locked files in a ransomware attack.
  • Lost income from a network outage.
  • Lawsuits related to customer or employee privacy and security.
  • Regulatory fines.


The takeaway

The cybersecurity threat grows daily. Make sure you train your employees well and warn them against clicking on malicious links by training them on how to identify suspicious e-mails. 


Also, to ensure you’re not bankrupted by an attack, you should consider some type of cyber insurance as it can provide a much-needed blanket of protection.