Top Cyber Threats for Businesses – Ransomware, BEC Scams, Social Engineering, Phishing Emails, Tax Cyber Threats All Threaten Businesses
The Federal Bureau of Investigations issued a Public Service announcement warning the public about the increasing threat of ransomware to businesses and healthcare organizations. Hackers have attacked smaller municipalities, major cities like Baltimore with expenseive ransomware attacks.
All businesses depend on the security of their systems, networks, websites, emails, and most importantly their data. A cyber threat puts every aspect of your business in danger.
Ransomware attacks are a form of cyber attack in which a malware takes control of a computer or servers and blocks access to files, devices, or the entire IT network until a ransom is paid. Ransomware attacks have been on the rise in one day in 2019 twenty-three government agencies in the state of Texas where infected with ransomware attack. The FBI warned that hackers are now targeting healthcare organizations with ransomware.
There is no guarantee that the system will be returned to its rightful owner if the ransom is paid.
RELATED: What is Ransomware?
Business email compromise, or BEC, scams are a type of corporate fraud where a hacker impersonates an employee, compromises an email account, or steals employee data. Generally, the goal of a BEC scam is to steal money or conduct identity theft. BEC scams can affect a company of any size. In 2018 hackers stole over 1.3 billion dollars from companies using BEC scams. A Common BEC scam is to send a fraudulent invoice to someone in a company who is responsible for accounts payable. Often the contact information for the accounts payable employee is acquired during a previous social engineering attack or phishing email campaign. Tax fraud or W2 scams are types of BEC scams.
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Often hackers compromise a corporate email account by resetting passwords. The hacker then sends an email from a legitimate corporate account to someone responsible for payments. A tricked employee who is received a legitimate looking invoice from an actual corporate email account may be fooled into transferring money to the hacker to pay the invoice.
Phishing Email Scams
Phishing emails are malicious emails sent to a victim with the goal I’m getting the victim to click on a link, download a file, go to a spoof website, or take other fraudulent action. The hacker may want to infect the victim’s computer with malware, steal money by tricking the recipient into entering in banking credentials, or steal sensitive corporate data to use in further cyber attacks.
Malware is any unwanted software app including adware, spyware, ransomware, worms, RAT malware, or computer virus. Malware is used to spy on a victim’s computer or an entire IT network. Malware can also be used to steal login credentials or financial information. It can also be used to gain access to other hardware or computers attached to the same network or to download more malware. Ransomware is a form of malware that controls access to infected computers and holds access until a ransom is paid. Adware is a type of malware that shows advertisements on a device to earn money through clicks.
Industrial Espionage or spying is carried out by organized and skilled hacking groups known as advanced persistent threat (APT) groups. APT hacking groups often work at the behest a foreign government. APT groups attack with a low and slow approach to hacking. They infiltrate and spy on corporate computers and networks to learn as much about the devices connected to the network and gain administrative access. APR groups also conduct industrial espionage to spy on corporate trade secrets, steal money, infect other machines and servers connected to a corporate network.
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Business tax fraud involves a hacker or scammer tricking a corporate employee into sending employee federal W2s or other tax forms. Tax fraud often begins with a phishing email. The hacker convinces a human resource employee to send one or more employee tax forms to an account controlled by the hacker. Because the tax forms contain personal information like names, addresses, and government identification numbers tax fraud results in identity theft. Tax fraud often begins with a spear phishing email.
Social Engineering Attacks
Social engineering is a tactic used by hackers to learn more information about a potential target. Social engineering is when a hacker gathers information about employees including names, email addresses, and job titles from publicly available online resources. Hackers get this information from corporate websites and social media accounts like LinkedIn and Facebook. The hacker then uses the personal information to send targeted spear phishing emails.
The personalized nature of the information contained in the email makes it seem as though the phishing email is coming from someone who is familiar to the recipient. Because the recipient is convinced, they know the sender, they’re more likely to follow the instructions in the scam email.
Social media accounts often contain the answers to common password reset questions. The answers to password reset questions combined with an email address can be used to hack into more sensitive accounts like credit cards, banks and corporate emails.
Identity theft is one of the top forms of scams identified by the Federal Trade Commission. Identity theft occurs when a hacker steals a person’s name address government identification numbers and other personal information. The hacker opens financial accounts in the name of the victim. And identity theft victim might find that there are credit cards, car loans, and even mortgages opened in their name.
Unpatched Software or Hardware
Unpatched software and Hardware can easily result and malware ransomware and other cyber tax spreading across an entire corporate Network easily. The 2018 malware attack known as one guy spread easily across Europe and Asia because hundreds of thousands of Windows computers, we’re not kept up-to-date with the latest security patches.
Patching apps software and Hardware is one of the easiest ways to protect your corporate data devices and network from hackers.
Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect your data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers