3 Top Business Security Threats and How to Avoid Them
Businesses today face a wide range of security threats. Brick-and-mortar businesses are significantly more likely than residential properties to become targets for theft, with 8.8 percent of small businesses suffering burglary annually, representing nearly one in ten companies, according to insurance provider Insureon. The risk of digital security threats is even higher, with eight in 10 U.S. businesses anticipating a critical breach in 2019, a Ponemon Institute survey found.
Fortunately, even as thieves strive to find new ways to rob business owners, security technology providers are developing innovations to make their task harder. Here are three types of risks businesses currently face, and some security systems companies can use to protect themselves against these threats.
1. Hardening Physical Security with Barriers and Surveillance
While some security threats require high-tech solutions, when it comes to physical break-ins, your first line of defense is still a good solid door and lock. In half of all commercial burglaries, the thief gains entrance through a door, a Temple University survey found. When a door can’t be opened, picked or broken, burglars will look for another point of weakness, such as a window that can be smashed or opened with a crow bar. You can protect doors by using measures such as solid wood or steel doors with steel frames, deadbolt locks with throws at least an inch thick and supplemental protection such as security storm doors. For windows, use barriers such as roll-down grilles for front windows and iron works for side and rear windows.
High-tech surveillance systems and alarms are also integral to physical security. Burglars don’t like to be seen, so a good surveillance camera system coupled with motion-activated lighting can serve as a strong deterrent, as well as a means to identify thieves should a break-in occur.
For instance, security camera system provider Lorex has developed Nocturnals cameras with 4K Ultra HD resolution and color night vision capability, able to capture critical details such as burglar hair color and license plate numbers even in low-light conditions. This type of camera system can also be set up so that if the motion sensors are triggered, push notifications are sent to your smartphone via an app, allowing you to respond more quickly to an event in progress.
2. Countering Ransomware and Cryptojacking
On the digital front, ransomware was the biggest emerging cyberthreat to businesses a couple years ago. In a ransomware attack, hackers use attachments or links in emails, on websites and in social media messages to trick users into downloading malware. The malware then encrypts the user’s files and demands a ransom payment in order to restore access to the files, threatening to permanently encrypt the files if payment is not made.
Last year, cybercriminals took ransomware a step further by deploying a similar attack method called cryptojacking. Cryptojacking uses the same methods as ransomware to get on a user’s device, but then the malware covertly hijacks the device’s resources in order to “mine” cryptocurrency such as bitcoin online. This increases the device owner’s utility bills while slowing down their processing speed, effectively making them pay the expense of hosting criminal activity. Unlike ransomware, cryptojacking does not cause any obvious damage, so victims may not notice any symptoms other than a slowdown in performance. Cryptojacking now affects 10 times more businesses than ransomware, according to Check Point Research.
Both ransomware and cryptojacking can be countered by taking basic cybersecurity steps such as avoiding clicking on suspicious links and attachments, keeping software and antivirus programs updated to the latest versions and installing ad-blocker and anti-cryptomining extensions in browsers. In addition, you can protect yourself from losing files to ransomware by performing regular automated file backups using a service such as IDrive.
3. Blocking Business Identity Theft
Most people have heard of identity theft against consumers, but you might not realize that businesses can also have their identity stolen. Identity thieves who gain access to sensitive information about your business may use it to open up business lines of credit in your company’s name, open personal lines of credit in the name of your company’s personnel or customers, or apply for phony tax refunds in your company’s name. This can damage your company’s reputation and business credit rating, hurting your ability to get access to credit. Business identity theft is on the rise, increasing 250 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the IRS.
Sound cybersecurity policies can help protect you from business identity theft. Some basic steps you can take include requiring employees to use strong passwords or password manager software, only using secure networks such as VPNs, keeping software and antivirus programs current with the latest updates and avoiding suspicious email attachments and website link. Thieves may also try to steal your information by intercepting your mail, so it’s also important to physically protect your mail. The US Postal Inspection Service advises taking steps such as picking up mail promptly after delivery, delivering outgoing mail directly to a postal carrier or a letter slot inside a post office rather than an unmonitored postbox and notifying your post office to hold your mail when you’re out of town.
Despite your best efforts, your business identity may be stolen anyway through means beyond your control, such as a hack of one of your service providers. Experian recommends using an identity monitoring service to alert you to suspicious activity so you can take appropriate steps in the event of identity theft, such as notifying financial providers.
Businesses are vulnerable to security risks in both the physical and digital arenas, and a sound security strategy needs to address all these areas. Strong barriers and motion-sensitive surveillance systems can help prevent physical theft. Smart cybersecurity policies can reduce digital risks such as ransomware and cryptojacking. Cybersecurity measures can also help prevent identity theft, in conjunction with physical mail security and identity monitoring. Implementing these tactics can greatly reduce business security risks.