How to Defend your Small Business against Cybercrime

Brilliance, historically, is often expressed in the simplest of technologies; the wheel and the light bulb are perfect examples. Today, brilliance is often attributed to advances in technologies that cure illnesses, solve problems, and make our lives easier.

Over the past decade, coders, programmers, and hackers of all kinds have come up with some of the simplest and most brilliant inventions—inventions with the power to transform life as we know it. Unfortunately, when it comes to network security it’s the cyber criminals that seem to be the smartest in the room.

Forbes reports, “ZeuS, SpyEye, Sunspot, OddJob, Gameover. Villains in the next James Bond movie? No. These are names for sophisticated and dangerous crime-ware used by real villains—internationally organized gangs of cyber criminals—to hijack online bank accounts and steal money.” According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, when it comes to online security an estimated 45% of all computers are now infected with malicious software designed to steal.

When banks began building out their IT infrastructure to allow for online banking, they didn’t anticipate the thousands of ways in which bad guys would scheme to separate banks and their clients from their cash.

One bank actually sued an accountholder who lost $800,000 to a digital heist in order to determine who shoulders the legal responsibility to protect online bank accounts from fraud. (The bank was able to recover $600,000 of the $800,000, which Italian and Romanian hackers had removed via unauthorized wire transfers.) The bank sought a legal acknowledgement of their systems’ security, while the accountholder argued that online security measures were inadequate.

In a similar case, a Michigan judge decided in favor of Comerica Bank customers, holding the bank responsible for approximately $560,000 out of a total of nearly $2 million in unrecovered losses.

Small businesses and banks are losing money via cyber-attacks on their online banking accounts. One way this happens is a cybercriminal send an e-mail with a link to a malicious site or download to employees who handle their company’s bank accounts. These malicious links either install one of the software programs detailed above or steals the username and passwords the employees use to log in to their online banking accounts.

Surfing pornography websites increases your risk, as does frequenting gaming websites hosted in foreign countries. Downloading pirated content from P2P (peer-to-peer) websites is also risky.

Computers with old, outdated, or unsupported operating systems are extremely vulnerable to cybercrime. Systems using old or outdated browsers such as IE 5, 6, or older versions of Firefox offer the path of least resistance.

Follow these essential computer security tips to protect your small business against cybercrime. Update your operating system to XP SP3 or Windows 7. Make sure to set your antivirus software to update automatically. Keep your critical online security patches up-to-date by setting Windows Update to run automatically as well. Don’t engage in risky online activities that invite cyber-attacks.

Robert Siciliano personal and small business security specialist toADT Small Business Security discussing ADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures