Sometimes you will know if your business has suffered a cyber-attack. For example, there could be a ransomware threat where you have to pay money to a cyber thief to get your files back. However, some types of cyber threats are better disguised and won’t be immediately obvious to the untrained eye. Subtle types of data breaches can be just as detrimental in the long-run, and business owners should keep a watchful eye.
Malware is a term that can refer to many types of cyber threats including malicious software downloads, spyware, browser hijacking, fake security software, viruses, adware, etc. If you visit a compromised website or download a program, malware can be installed on your computer and secretly steal personal information from you or your customers and relay it to third parties. Other damaging effects of malware include the broadcasting of spam email, using your computer to hijack other computer systems, erasing data from your hard drives, and more.
Signs that your computer may be infected with malware include sudden crashes, browser settings that can’t be changed, or new toolbars that you haven’t noticed before. Malware is becoming more sophisticated and more difficult for anti-malware software programs to detect.
Phishing is an attempt to trick you into clicking on a link in an email, a text message, or a fake website in order to obtain money or have you download malware. While some emails are obviously phishing schemes (the Nigerian prince who left you his inheritance), others are not so obvious. Here are a few things to watch for in identifying a phishing email: mismatched URLs (hover over the typed URL and look at the hyperlink address), emails from government agencies (very few if any government agencies will contact you by email); an unexpected winning (you are not likely to win a lottery that you did not enter).
Prevention is the best solution, but once a breach of data has occurred, the most important thing is to secure your data and prevent further breaches. Having a cyber liability policy in place will protect your business and provide you with a dedicated response team to help with identifying breaches, stopping them, and providing the proper legal notification to all affected parties. Familiarize yourself with these tips from the Federal Trade Commission on ways your small business can avoid scams. Train your staff in learning to identify and prevent data breaches, and keep a cyber liability policy in place if something should go wrong!