Thanks to digital technology, it has never been easier for people around the world to connect and transact, which also makes it easier for fraudsters to conduct their malicious activities. As a result, thousands of businesses are being victimized each year, costing them tens of billions of dollars.
While cyber fraud presents itself in many different forms, the two most pervasive and costly are ransomware attacks and account takeover schemes.
Ransomware attacks occur primarily through phishing emails—emails made to look legitimate, coming from a financial institution, colleague, vendor, or customer, but are cyber trojan horses that include a malicious link or attachment. When clicked on by an unwary employee, it unleashes malware or ransomware that can capture and encrypt a business’s data, making it inaccessible to the business.
Users are then confronted with a message informing them that their data has been kidnapped and won’t be released until a ransom is paid. In most instances, the ransoms are small—ranging between $500 and $5,000—because cyberthieves are savvy enough to know that businesses are more likely to pay a small amount of money rather than expend costly resources trying to retrieve their data.
Account Takeover Schemes
Account takeover schemes are more common, occurring when fraudsters use phishing emails to trick employees into handing over the business’s financial accounts. It can happen when an employee sees a request from what appears to be a legitimate source, such as a superior, vendor, or financial institution for a funds transfer. With the account information in hand, cyberthieves can make unauthorized transactions, steal customer information, or add a fake employee to the payroll.
Cyberthieves Exploit Your Vulnerabilities
Cyberthieves are highly adept at exploiting a business’s vulnerable access points through fake emails and downloads from the internet. When an email link or attachment is opened by an employee, it installs malicious software that can give them wide-open access to a business’s data. In some cases, they use keyboard logging software that can track everything typed on the keyboard, including passwords.
Fortifying Your Defenses
Cyberthieves are relentless in their efforts to steal from businesses, taking advantage of the latest technologies to try to stay one step ahead of cyber security measures, such as data encryption, firewalls, and antivirus applications.
Businesses must continuously examine and assess possible weaknesses that could be exploited by anyone who wants unauthorized access to information and then review information security policies and procedures.
Often a business’s first and last line of defense against cyber-attacks is its employees. Businesses must make employee education on preventing cyber fraud a cornerstone of their employee training and make a point of reviewing security policies at monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings. The more identity theft and cyber fraud are discussed and highlighted, the greater awareness all your employees will have of the potential risk.