From phishing and extortion to harassment and more, here’s a look at the most common cybercrimes companies face.
In 2020, over 240,000 people in the U.S. reported being victims of phishing. The second most commonly reported cybercrime was the non-delivery of products, followed by extortion. Cybercrimes are more rampant than ever. Recognizing that, 154 countries have enacted cybercrime legislation. Still, that has not deterred cybercriminals who steal information and money from vulnerable people and companies. Startups and small companies are among the most common targets.
So, here are some of the most common cybercrimes to watch out for:
“Tap on this link and win a million dollars right away!” Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it probably is. Hyperlinks, attachments, a sense of urgency, and unrealistic offers are the characteristics of a phishing cybercrime.
Phishing refers to emailing or contacting someone by pretending to belong to a well-known and famous organization. Cybercriminals use phishing to lure people into providing sensitive information like credit card details and addresses. Some other forms of phishing include smishing (SMS phishing) and vishing (video phishing).
As per Proofpoint’s 2021 Threat report, 75% of organizations experienced some type of phishing in 2020. To protect yourself from such scams, use spam filters, update browser settings, encourage your team to regularly change their passwords, and onboard a monitoring system.
#2 Cyber Extortion
In July 2021, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) faced a ransom demand of US$50 million in return for the company’s leaked data. This is known as cyber extortion.
Cyber extortion is a crime where someone holds your data hostage till your company pays the ransom. Cybercriminals gain access to your computers and steal confidential data. They often gain this access by sending suspicious emails containing malware—malicious software—that hijacks your computer. They can resort to blackmail, denial of service, locking you out of your system, and more.
To keep your company safe from cyber extortion, you can opt for cyber liability insurance, install anti-virus software, maintain numerous data backups, and educate your employees.
#3 Data breach
In 2021, data breach costs rose from US$3.86 million to US$4.24 million. An IBM report revealed that that’s the highest average total cost in 17 years. Compromised credentials were the major cause of data breaches.
Data breaches can happen by accident or intentionally. Poor technological firewalls and reckless employee behavior can result in a data breach. Often, hackers use phishing emails and malware to steal sensitive and confidential information, resulting in a data breach.
The IBM report found that companies with AI-enabled security systems were most protected from data breaches. There are also other ways to protect your company. These include enforcing strong credentials, installing encryption security software, and having a disaster management plan in place for such incidents.
#4 Identity theft
Dwight Schrute from The Office, a beloved TV show, was right when he said, “Identity theft is not a joke.” Indeed, it is not. In 2020, Americans lost a whopping US$56 billion to identity theft.
Identity theft happens when a person pretends to be someone else to commit fraud. Cybercriminals steal your personal information, like identity cards, credit cards and the like, to make transactions. The most common type of identity theft is financial identity theft. There are also other types, like medical identity theft, child identity theft and more.
Often, criminals find your paper receipts containing bank details and use them to commit identity theft. To avoid that, shift to using digital financial statements across your company. For the things that have to be in paper form, use a quality shredder to ensure that you dispose of them safely. Additionally, have strong passwords and ensure that only a select few have access to all company files. You don’t need to share every single piece of information with each employee.
Harassment takes on many forms for small businesses. For instance, in April 2021, singer Demi Lovato came under fire for harassing a local frozen yogurt shop on Instagram. She accused them of triggering her “eating disorder” by placing the sugary yogurt options before the vegan ones. There was also another instance of a woman bullying a Houston cafe online for speaking up against the Texas abortion law. Harassment hurts the business’ reputation and often leaves a mental scar on the person being harassed.
Be it because of their employees, customers or outside criminals—many companies have become targets of online harassment. Harassment includes bullying, stalking and the like. Sometimes insiders use confidential information to bully the business owner. Other times, outside cybercriminals use the information to threaten individuals. They don’t always use only business data. Many use personal information, like pictures, family details, and more, to harass your business or employees. They know that the leakage of that information will be detrimental to your business.
To protect your team from harassment, you must have a stringent anti-harassment policy in place.
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