Protecting your business against cyber crime is now more important than ever. In 2015, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence ranked cybercrime as the number one security threat in the country.
Mega-corporations get most of the publicity when it comes to cybercrime and hacking. But despite popular belief, new information shows nearly half of all cybercrime targets small business, giving the cyber crooks access to huge amounts of cash and information. In fact, last year saw approximately half of worldwide Internet attacks reported against small businesses; the cyber thieves zeroing in on their digital frailties to swipe valuable information, send spam, and cripple websites. Although smaller companies obviously have less data to steal, they can act like a secret passage into the bowels of larger companies they work with
As a loan broker, you work with sensitive personal and financial information from clients and lenders all the time. Financial technology has become a huge help when it comes to organizing and expediting the loan process, however as technology advances, cybercrime tactics used to steal your business’ sensitive data will advance as well. You have to be prepared to protect yourself, your clients and your business.
Top 4 Cyber Crime Threats
- Data Breaches: Businesses feel the effects of data breaches through financial losses and loss of customer trust. 813 data breaches have occurred last year which surpassed last year’s total count of 781. Recovery from an SMB data breach can cost between $36,000 and $50,000, which can be especially devastating to smaller businesses. Firewalls are put in place to block criminals attempting to hack into your business’ network. However, malicious software that is mistakenly downloaded by yourself or employees is often the culprit behind data breaches. Employee error and accidental email/Internet exposure caused nearly 30 percent of all data breaches in 2016.
- Malware: Malware is most often introduced to a company’s secure network via phishing emails sent to yourself or employees. Symantec noted that the number of spear phishing attacks targeted at employees working for small businesses increased by 55 percent in 2015. Knowing that only 7.9 percent of an SMB’s budget on average goes toward the business’ security, hackers are much more likely to launch cyber attacks against small businesses that have weaker security systems.
- Network Vulnerabilities: Unauthorized access to your network via a security flaw can be damaging to your company. Hackers take advantage of security flaws within your business’ software because they act as backdoors into your network. 75 percent of all cyber attacks target known vulnerabilities.
- Mobile Devices: While mobile devices are meant to improve efficiency, criminals can also exploit unsecured laptops and smartphones to gain entry into your business. Many businesses allow employees to connect their personal devices to the corporate network — so-called “bring your own devices”. However, this can pose a threat to your company’s cyber security since over 75 percent of employees do not secure their computers.
Criminals also target cloud services because of the large pools of data they can hold. Even though many of today’s cloud services offer sufficient security measures to prevent hackers from accessing sensitive business data, initial misconfiguration or misuse by the business user of these services can lead to vulnerabilities in the services’ defensive features. Remember, any device that is connected to the Internet can be hacked. Devices such as DVRs, printers and Smart TVs can help hackers gain access to your business’ network through unsecured Wi-Fi networks. If successfully hacked, criminals can compromise these devices and turn them into “bots” that can be used to unwittingly target other victims as part of future attacks.
How to Protect Yourself, Your Clients & Your Business
Follow these tips to help safeguard your company from this year’s biggest cyber threats:
- Implement the proper security measures: Use and continuously update firewalls to keep hackers out of your network. Furthermore, make sure to regularly update company software to patch any security flaws and known vulnerabilities.
- Properly train your employees: If your employees are educated about the common cyber threats specifically targeting them, they will be more likely to recognize a cyber threat and report it to you or your security team. Employees can help detect certain cyber threats earlier so that you address and manage them more efficiently.
- Secure your Wi-Fi network: Wi-Fi networks should be password-protected, encrypted and hidden from public view. Access to the secured network should be limited and monitored regularly.
- Adhere to strict regulations regarding the use of personal devices: Ideally, your employees should not use their personal devices on the business’ secure Wi-Fi network. If it is absolutely necessary, dedicate a separate Wi-Fi network for their personal devices to protect your business’ servers should the network be compromised.
- Consider allocating a separate network for your IoT devices: Similar to the personal devices, having a separate network for your IoT devices will decrease the chances of hackers gaining access to your business’ main network.
These steps may seem like overkill, but it’s easier to prevent a cyber attack than to fix it after it’s already happened. A breach of confidential and sensitive client information is unprofessional to say the least, and can lead to a complete mistrust of your business turning clients and lenders off from working with you. The reputation and hard work you’ve put in to make your loan business the best in the industry will mean nothing. So protect yourself and your business at all costs.