Why your business isn’t immune to online threats

Marc Thaler

If only you could periodically pump your network or mobile device full of a virtual vaccine. You know, increase your Internet immunity with additional protection from today’s current and emerging online threats.

That pretty much describes a digital booster shot, right?

Perhaps it’ll be possible someday. For now, the strategy should be simple: To properly safeguard your systems, implement quality defense controls through email and web filtering, and routinely educate your workforce.

In its Global Phishing Survey 2013, the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) said there were a minimum of 115,565 unique phishing attacks worldwide between July 1 and December 31, 2013:

“This is nearly a 60% increase over the 72,758 seen (in) the first half of 2013.”

The report also tracked maliciously registered domains and reported 22,831 – by far the most since the first half of 2011 (14,650). The number of targeted institutions totaled 681, second only to the first half of this year (720).

The fact that attacks weren’t limited to specific types of websites is equally, if not more, alarming. Sites affected included those for:

  • Banks 32.9%
  • eCommerce 26.2%
  • Money transfer 17.5%
  • Social networking and email 16.8%
  • Other   6.6%

As the APWG report explains:

“It appears that almost any enterprise with an online presence can be a phishing target – if a site takes in personal data, then there may be phishers who want to exploit it.”

In terms of an online presence, the National Small Business Association (NSBA) 2013 Small Business Technology Survey reported that 82% of respondents have a traditional website (18% have a mobile site and 5% have an app). Meanwhile, 69% accept online payments via credit or debit cards, and 20% take checks, banking transfers, money orders and purchase orders.

Furthermore, the NSBA study found that nearly half (44%) have been victims of a computer virus, malware and other such online attacks:

“Exacerbating the cybersecurity issue for small firms is the fact that business checking accounts are NOT protected when it comes to online hacking, unlike consumer accounts. The majority of small firms, 75%, aren’t even aware of this.”

What about the cost to deal with these online threats? IDC research says enterprises this year “will spend $491 billion because of malware associated with pirated software, which breaks out to $127 billion in dealing with security issues and $364 billion dealing with data breaches.”

Cybercriminals are the chief culprits, accounting for $315 billion in losses. But employees aren’t helping matters, either. Three-quarters (75%) of CIOs and IT managers said employee-installed software created problems, including increased security threats (51%) and interference with authorized software (20%).

Understanding how you can help your employees reduce their risk of exposure to phishing attacks and malicious activity is essential.

And now you know why.

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Want to know more about security? Then check out the videos serious by our security lead, Ian Trump…