Bracing for Potential Cybersecurity Threats

A recent report suggests that hackers are targeting small businesses at an alarming rate. In fact, cyber attacks on businesses with fewer than 250 employees accounted for 43% of all reported attacks in 2015, up from 34% in 2014.1

By one estimate, cybercrime costs the global economy as much as $575 billion each year.2

Given the risks, it might be safer to assume that your business could be targeted and prepare accordingly.

Methods of Attack
A spear-phishing attack often involves emails sent to employees. Clicking on a malicious link provides access to the company’s network, allowing the installation of malware designed to steal or hijack critical data.

With a watering hole attack, the attacker guesses or observes which websites a targeted group often uses and infects them with malware. Eventually, some member of the targeted group gets infected.

When a data breach occurs, outsiders gain access to the personally identifiable information of customers or other individuals, opening the door for identity theft and other financial crimes. Ransomware is a menacing virus that locks businesses out of their computer files and demands payment of a ransom in exchange for the return of company systems and data.

Defend Your Data
A company can be held legally responsible if its customers’ personally identifiable information is disclosed. Moreover, the time and expense involved in recovering from any type of cyber attack could be insurmountable. Here are some cybersecurity tips for small businesses offered by the Federal Trade Commission.

  • Install and update antivirus and antispyware software on every computer, and maintain firewalls between the internal network and the Internet.
  • If you have a Wi-Fi network, set it up so the network name is hidden and a secure password is required for access. Require passwords to be changed on a regular basis.
  • Train employees in security practices and specifically on not to open emails from unknown senders. Set up a separate account for each user and provide access only to the data needed for users to perform their jobs.
  • Lock up computers, laptops, and tablets to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Consider purchasing Internet liability insurance, which may offer some protection (up to policy limits) from the financial risks associated with computer hacking, spam, viruses, and other online perils.

1–2) Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, 2016


The information in this article is not intended as tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. Copyright 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC

Tony Fazio, CFP® is a Minneapolis, Minnesota Based Financial Planner
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Phone: (952) 470-1660 (800) 419-7377 Fax: (888) 241-0848

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