The New Normal: Internet Crime Climbing, Site Security Flat Lining

We've got some bad news: Internet crime is on the rise. Hackers and scammers are adept at infiltrating corporate networks, stealing data and fooling individuals into sharing their more personal information. In turn, this can lead to financial disaster for many organizations.

But we also have some good news! You can prevent cybercrime from crippling your business by emphasizing the importance of cybersecurity education in the workplace. Below CyberPolicy examines the prevalence of internet crime and prescribes a few tips to keep your organization safe.

Cybercrime: A Growing Problem
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), the financial loss of cybercrime in the U.S. exceeded $1.3 billion in 2016 alone! That's a 24 percent increase from last year, in case you were wondering.

The most prevalent and damaging forms of cybercrime, per IC3's 2016 Internet Crime Report, are ransomware, business email compromise (BEC), tech support fraud and extortion.

While these findings are alarming, they are definitely not surprising. In 2016 and 2017, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number and scale of ransomware attacks. One such attack shut down 16 hospitals in the United Kingdom!

And of course, compromising business emails is one of the oldest tricks in the hacker handbook. Generally, they achieve this by targeting a specific business, sending spear phishing emails or telephone calls to manipulate the target and then convincing the unwitting victim to share private data or funds with attacker. Clever, isn't it?

Tech support fraud works in much the same way. Essentially a phony tech support representative will gain access to your computer or your finances by pretending to be a legitimate employee for a well-respected company like Apple or Microsoft.

For example, you may be surfing the web when suddenly you see a pop-up warning saying: "Your Computer Has Been Infected by a Virus!" The notice has a phone number or link that says it will connect you to a tech representative who will fix the problem for you, in exchange for your credit card information. With one fell swoop, the attacker gains your credit card number and remote access to your computer!

"If you get an unexpected pop-up, call, spam email or other urgent message about problems with your computer, stop," says the Federal Trade Commission. "Don't click on any links, don't give control of your computer and don't send any money."

Extortion scams, like the ones listed above, are surprisingly successful and could spell the end of your small business. Luckily, you can avoid these kind of attacks by promoting cybersecurity education in the workplace. Here are a few things to cover during your next cybersecurity training:

  • Never open emails, attachments, downloads or links from sources you do not know well.
  • Never share private or financial information over email or other forms of unencrypted transfer.
  • Double-check with the requester either in person or over the phone before sharing important information.
  • Study popular social engineering scams to better understand common red flags.

If, however, a scammer does breach your defenses, you'll need a backup plan. Visit CyberPolicy to find out why data breach insurance is vital for SMBs.

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