Cyber security is a hot topic these days, and it’s not just for big businesses. When it comes to protecting client information, small business owners must be even more attentive than they have been in the past. Cyber thieves are constantly trying new methods of stealing your customers’ info, so you must be on the lookout at all times.
Below are some common ways cybercriminals attempt to steal your customer’s info:
Use of Phishing Emails
As an example, cyber thieves create fake websites that look exactly like PayPal. Then they send you an email stating your account’s been suspended because of suspicious activity. If you click the link to the fake website, it will steal your user name and password for PayPal, not to mention other personal info you provide on the site. Once cyber thieves have your info, they use it to access your account – and run up your credit cards or make purchases. They can even steal all of your private information.
One way cyber thieves attempt to steal your customer’s info is through name scraping. This is where they create software designed to pull off email addresses and names from websites. The criminals use these lists of emails and names for spam campaigns or other unsolicited contacts (such as phishing). You must ensure your website doesn’t include any login forms that allow visitors to sign up using their personal information. If they do, make sure the form is secure and encrypted.
Use of Keyloggers
A keylogger is a small program that tracks every keystroke you enter on a computer keyboard. Cyber thieves often install a keylogger on a computer that’s already been hacked. When you use the computer, the keylogger records every password and another piece of information you enter on a keypad. Even if you don’t do anything significant on the computer, a cyber thief will still have access to your passwords if they can get their hands on your username and password for the computer.
A spoofed website looks just like a legitimate site – except for one thing: the URL is slightly different. For example, cyber thieves could set up a spoofed website that looks just like Paypal, but instead of typing paypal.com, you type in something, for example, for this site https://www.paypale.com/ which will not be the same as your original destination on your browser you’re using. Spoofed sites often use common misspellings, accidental keystrokes, or similar means to get you to their site. They also could use different url endings such as .net, .org. or .co as a misdirect from the original site.
If you’ve already given your username and password to the spoofed site, cyber thieves will be able to access your PayPal account, or whatever the site ma be. More than likely, they’ll use it for fraud and more damage before you even know what’s happened. Take care to know the location of your intent before going to any site, and remember its better to be cautious than not on website urls.
Social Engineering Tactics Such as Phone Calls, Texts, or Email Messages
Another way cyber thieves attempt to steal your customer’s information is through social engineering tactics. They do this by calling, texting, or emailing you directly and asking for usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, expiration dates, PIN codes – even account balances.
They could say they’re from a legitimate company such as your bank or PayPal. They could even pretend to be your boss, a co-worker, or a client. In this case, email is usually their method of choice. If you don’t know the sender personally, do not open any attachments or click on any links in the message until you have verified that it’s legitimate.
Using Ransomware to Lock up Data on a System or Device
Ransomware is a sort of software that cyber thieves employ to extort money from you in exchange for access to your computer files. Once they’ve infected your device, they’ll encrypt (or lock) all of your documents and then demand payment in exchange for the decryption key, which is a time-consuming and expensive process.
If you don’t want to lose access to your data forever, you need to disconnect your computer from the Internet before cyber thieves can encrypt all of your files. Then, contact your service provider for help in removing the ransomware.
Exploiting Unsecured Networks and Devices by Using Default Passwords and Other Weak Security Measures
When cyber thieves set up a network, they use weak security measures and rely on most people don’t change the default passwords. If you are in a Starbucks or other public place and connect to an unprotected Wi-Fi network, cyber hackers may be able to gain access to all of your sensitive information with relative ease.
Most home internet routers come with factory-programmed default usernames and passwords. Anyone can access them – unless you’ve changed the password since your router was initially set up. Cyber thieves will have access to all of your usernames and passwords for all devices connected to your wireless network by using the old password.
They could also gain access to your router’s settings and reconfigure wireless security to a weaker protocol such as WEP or WPA2. This will allow them to exploit your network even if you’ve already changed the password, rendering it virtually useless.
If cyber thieves successfully access your device, they could gain sensitive information about you and use it for identity theft purposes (i.e., your name, address, phone number, date of birth, etc.). Or they could reroute traffic through their anonymizing servers to mask their identity or block the data from reaching its intended destination.
To avoid this, always change the default passwords when setting up a wireless router and routinely update the firmware.
Using Malware To Infect Systems and Devices
Viruses, ransomware, worms, spyware, and Trojan horses all fall under the umbrella term “malware.”, to name a few categories. When cyber thieves use malware against your computer or device(s), they’ll try to access your personal information or exploit vulnerabilities in your device’s security system.
These attacks can come from email attachments, corrupted links, or executable files.
If cyber thieves successfully infect your computer with malware, they will most likely use it to spread spam emails. They do this by attaching an infected file to an email sent out to hundreds of people. When you open the email and download the attachment (i.e., document or photo), you’ll unknowingly download the malware as well.
For example, identity theft (acquiring personal information like account numbers and passwords) and financial losses might result from this (i.e., stealing money from your bank accounts).
To prevent cyber thieves from infecting your system with malware, you need to be cautious with all email attachments, even those that appear legitimate. It’s also crucial that you regularly update your antivirus software and keep it up-to-date at all times.
Unauthorized Online Security Breaches
One of the most common cyber thefts is gaining access to someone else’s account without their knowledge or permission. It can happen when you’re using a public computer, and somebody has already logged into their email, for example. If they haven’t signed out after completing their email session and you proceed to check yours, that person could easily hack into your account.
There’s also the scenario where you give a co-worker or friend access to your computer, and they proceed to check their online bank statements while logged in under your username. If they have hacked into your system through malware on another device, for instance, cyber thieves could gain access to all of the private information this way as well.
This is why you must not share your passwords with anyone – including close friends and family members. This way, cyber thieves can’t take advantage of the vulnerabilities in your computer systems. Using a distinct username and password for each online account is the best way to protect yourself from identity theft.
Even though cyber criminals will constantly want to steal your business’s client information, to prevent this from happening, there are a few steps you may take. Make sure your website doesn’t include any login forms without a secure HTTPS connection. If you have one, instruct your customers to close out of the website and go directly to the business’s website if they see a login form without an encrypted connection.
Make sure none of your employees or IT staff use their work email address or other personal information for online transactions such as online banking. Instruct them to only use their work emails for work-related messages and their email address for private messages. Also, be sure to change all passwords frequently and use a different password for each online account. Be mindful of internet scams and phishing assaults so that your customers know them and don’t open communications from fraudsters.
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