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3 Serious Digital Threats to Your Business in 2017

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The internet is far from a safe place to do business, but the convenience and capability of the web makes it nearly impossible for any competitive company to stay away. In the seemingly eternal arms race between hackers and cybersecurity experts, digital threats are changing every year ― and becoming more and more appalling with every generation.

To have any semblance of online safety, business leaders must be aware of potential threats to their enterprises ― especially those that are most likely in the coming year. Security experts predict the following three threats to be the most probable digital issues in 2017.

1. Ransomware

Ransomware is among the newest and most insidious of malware creations. Like any malware, ransomware can find its way onto a device through a variety of means: a corrupted file, link, or video sent through text message or email. However, once successfully lodged on a device, ransomware then plays on human fears and desires by hiding a user’s files and locking access to essential processes. Desperate and anxious, users will do almost anything to retrieve their data ― including pay outrageous sums and freely give privileged information.

In recent years, the variety and popularity of ransomware has grown exponentially. Since 2012, ransomware infections doubled every year, and in 2016, around 50,000 users were subjected to ransomware attacks every month. Worse, hackers are more motivated than ever by the substantial gains they achieve through ransomware tactics: Last year, nearly $1 billion was paid as ransom by users hoping to retrieve their stolen data.

Unfortunately, experts can do little to combat ransomware once it is insinuated into a device; strong encryption usually thwarts any kind of data retrieval. Businesses must prepare for the ransomware threat with frequent backups of data and procedures to quickly and efficiently address ransomware attacks.

2. Phishing

It might seem like an antiquated tactic, but phishing emails and texts continue to produce results for cybercriminals. People tend to trust messages from addresses and numbers they recognize, so hackers who can send phony emails and texts laced with malware are more likely to see success. Ransomware is often packaged in phishing schemes; in fact, a recent study found that 93 percent of phishing emails contained ransomware. In businesses, where emails are the primary mode of communication, phishing can be devastating, so it is important for leaders and workers to be equipped with strong anti-virus software and understand the most common phishing tactics:

  • CEO scams. Also called CEO fraud, emails that purport to be from business leaders can be effective at persuading lower-level employees to make poor decisions. Most often, they convince victims to make payments, share sensitive information, or click dangerous links.
  • Corporate emails. Similarly, these schemes entail sending out notices that look like official communications, such as invoices, human resources documents, or enrollment messages, but links or attachments are instead grievous malware.
  • Technical emails. Pretending to be auto-generated messages, such as “failed to send” or error reports, this phishing method hides danger in technical jargon that most employees do not understand.
  • Commercial scams. Email marketing is exceedingly popular, so it follows that hackers would use the same tactics, hiding malware instead of deals inside emailed content. Sometimes, these emails look like insurance notifications, shipping confirmations, or wire transfer requests.

3. Hacking

Insecure networks are some of the easiest and most fruitful targets for cybercriminals. Businesses are filled with juicy data, such as customer information, payment accounts, and even corporate plans. Many startups and small businesses forget the importance of cybersecurity while they focus on building their brands ― only to allow hackers free reign on their networks. Updating all software religiously and maintaining strong firewalls around-the-clock is vital to staying safe from this threat.

Unfortunately, the increasing strength of cybersecurity is encouraging hackers to be more creative with their techniques. Experts are noting an increase in employee exploitation: Hackers infiltrate employees’ relatively weak home networks and convince them to steal corporate information. Additionally, hackers might obtain employment with the primary intention of leeching data and funds thanks to their employee credentials. Businesses must be careful in their hiring processes and suspicious with their account access to ensure disgruntled employees lack the power to destroy the business from the inside.

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