Navigating Cyber Attacks in an Increasingly Digital Workplace

The research is staggering: Cybercrime is a $6 trillion per year problem, and it’s only getting worse. On average, a single cyber-attack costs businesses as much as $133,000 — money that comes straight out of your bottom line and could certainly be put to better use.

Cyber attackers are taking advantage of the myriad of vulnerabilities in the new work-from-home landscape. Because this shift to remote work happened so quickly for many small and medium companies, business leaders didn’t have much time to react from an IT standpoint. Rather, they followed the path of least resistance to keep business going and let security fall by the wayside.

But now, it’s no longer enough to find workarounds and use shortcuts to facilitate remote work. Security should always be a top priority and businesses need to start taking a proactive approach to preventing cycber attacks in the first place.

Business Cyber Attacks are Growing

The frequency of cyber-attacks has only increased since the surge of remote work. Between January and April 2020 alone, cyber-attacks grew a jaw-dropping 630%. Ransomware saw a 148% increase, while phishing attempts soared to 600%.

In total, 8 in 10 companies experienced a spike in cyber-attacks in 2020. The predictions for 2021 was for a cyber-attack to occur somewhere in the world every 11 seconds! But it also took an average of 207 days for companies to realize an attack had occurred.

Now that remote work is here to stay, at least in part, it’s more important than ever to recognize what an attack looks like and how to prevent them in a distributed workforce.

Common Types of Cyber Attacks

Our partner in cyber security shared some insight on the most common types of cyber-attacks that small and medium businesses are exposed to.

Arguably the biggest threat is ransomware. Ransomware attacks infiltrate a system or machine and take it hostage. The attackers request an absurd sum (usually tens of thousands of dollars) and promise to release the system once the ransom has been paid. Except — there’s no guarantee that you will be able to regain system access. And, as the FBI warns, paying the sum only shows that ransomware attacks work and continue encouraging cyber criminals to launch their attacks.

We’re seeing a new trend in ransomware, called multi-stage ransomware attacks. Once the attackers take over your system, they extract the data and steal credentials to share online. This is what leads to data breaches, which in turn erodes brand trust and can drive away even your most loyal customers.

Small and medium businesses are also vulnerable to malware and phishing attacks. Phishing accounts for about 90% of all attacks. Criminals send malicious links while posing as someone the user is familiar with, then steals sensitive information once the link is clicked or a file is downloaded.

Malware takes the form of malicious code that’s designed to infiltrate systems and steal data. These are serious issues to smaller enterprises because you made need to completely replace systems and devices as a result, which can be an expense you’re not prepared for.

No type of cyber-attack should be taken lightly. Not only can a single attack take thousands of dollars out of your bottom line, but they can also cause your customers to lose faith in you and hesitate to work with you in the future.

How to Protect Your Business from Cyber Criminals

Anti-virus tools have been staples in the business environment for years, but they’re not enough to block all types of threats. Attack methods continue to evolve in sophistication, plus they’re expanding in size and scope.

To give your business 360-degree protection, put the following tips into practice:

• Back up all your data and files so that you can access them in the event of a ransomware attack.

• Train employees on how to spot the most common types of cyber-attacks and how to handle suspicious links, emails, etc.

• Implement multiple layers of security, including firewalls, two-factor authentication, etc.

• Establish remote access and usage rules to protect sensitive company data.

• Develop a data breach management and response plan to take quick action and guide damage control.

• Redesign your network and IT infrastructure to support secure remote work.

HiTouch Business Services specializes in essential business services to keep your company moving forward. Our range of IT products and services helps businesses optimize and adapt their technology to the remote work ecosystem and provide 360 degrees of security to business operations.

We take a custom approach to the IT needs of small and medium businesses. From design to implementation to training, our team helps you protect what matters most. Get in touch to learn more about our IT solutions and bring confidence back into your business.

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