As the world becomes more digital, so do the risks of conducting business online. Cyber incidents can happen to any business, regardless of size or industry, and can have serious consequences.
The following are some examples of common types of incidents to look out for:
Phishing is an online scam in which criminals send emails or instant messages falsely claiming to be from a legitimate organization. These messages typically contain links to bogus websites designed to steal your personal information such as your login credentials or credit card number. Phishing attacks can be challenging to detect because scammers use familiar logos and language to dupe their victims.
A denial-of-service attack makes a computer or other service inaccessible to users. These attacks are carried out by flooding the victim’s computers or network with requests, rendering it unable to respond to legitimate traffic or causing it to crash. Such attacks can be excessively disruptive and can result in significant financial losses.
A ransomware attack is a cyberattack through which hackers encrypt a victim's data and demand a ransom to decrypt it. Encryption is the process of transforming readable data into an unreadable format. This is done using a key, which is a piece of information that controls the transformation. Only the same key can convert the unreadable format to readable data or decrypt it.
These attacks can be incredibly detrimental to individuals and organizations since they frequently lead to loss of data or money.
An SQL injection is a form of attack cybercriminals use to execute malicious SQL code in a database. Simply speaking, SQL code is a language to communicate to computers. You can use it to tell the computer what you want it to do, like find some information or create a table, for example. Cybercriminals use this code to change, steal or delete data.
SQL injection attacks pose a serious risk to any website that relies on a database because they can cause irreversible damage.
Malware is software that is intended to harm computer systems. It can take the form of viruses, Trojans or spyware. Malware can be used to steal personal information, corrupt files and even disable systems.
Nothing could be further from the truth if you believe cybercriminals only target large corporations. According to a recent report, 43% of all cyberattacks target small businesses.1
Real cyber incidents experienced by small businesses
Although the media usually underreports attacks on small businesses and focuses on data breaches that affect large corporations, here are two instances of incidents that severely impacted small businesses:2
- When the bookkeeper of a boutique hotel began receiving insufficient fund notifications for regularly recurring bills, the chief executive officer (CEO) realized their company had been the victim of wire fraud.
A thorough examination of the accounting records revealed a severe issue. A few weeks prior, the CEO had clicked on a link in an email that they mistook for one from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It wasn't the case. Cybercriminals obtained the CEO's login information, giving them access to sensitive business and personal information.
This attack had a significant impact. The company lost $1 million to a Chinese account and the money was never recovered.
- The CEO of a government contracting firm realized that access to their business data, including their military client database, was being sold in a dark web auction. The CEO soon noticed that the data was outdated and had no connection to their government agency clients.
How did this data leak happen? The company discovered that a senior employee had downloaded a malicious email attachment thinking it was from a trusted source.
The breach had a significant operational and financial impact, costing more than $1 million. The company's operations were disrupted for several days since new security software licenses and a new server had to be installed.
Collaborate for success
Your business is not immune to cyberthreats. To address incidents as they occur, adequate security measures and an incident response plan are required. Consider consulting with an IT service provider like us if you need help identifying the right technologies to prevent a cyber incident or help with developing an incident response plan.
Feel free to reach out now.
To get you better acquainted with incident response best practices, we have created a checklist titled "Cyber Incident Prevention Best Practices for Your Small Business," which you can download by clicking here.
- National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) Report, 2022 - Staysafeonline.org/cybersecure-business
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) - Small Business Cybersecurity Case Study Series