Top Forms of Cyber Attacks
By Jacob Healy
As the technology of the world continues to rapidly develop and change, businesses are at risk of cybercrime now more than ever. And while that word may sound futurist and unthreatening, there are real dangers associated with being the victim of cybercrime, both financially and professionally. If your business isn’t protected in the event of a cyber-attack, you risk suffering exorbitant losses and possibly going out of business due to the devastating effects of the attack on your finances. The best way to avoid these types of losses is to learn about the different types of cybercrime and how you can protect your organization from these vicious electronic attacks.
What is Cybercrime?
Cybercrime is a broad term and it can be all-encompassing for a business that relies on cloud storage or an internal network. It represents a wide array of criminal activities that are conducted against a person or business by using and/or targeting a computer or related system. This could mean anything from fraud and theft to ransomware and phishing. Essentially, it’s the use of computers and networks to illegally manipulate, transmit or access data. This definition also extends to the use of other electronic devices, such as cellphones, cameras, servers and so on. There are myriad of ways that cybercrime can be conducted using the multiple technology channels of today – the list is never-ending.
Of course, this means cybercrime has big implications for businesses of any size. Global cybercrime damages are predicted to cost up to $6 trillion annually by 2021 – making it one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises. At the end of the day, cybercriminals are trying to access your company’s money and they’re succeeding – in one conservative estimate, the cybercrime industry generated at least $1.5 trillion in revenue in 2018. And cybercrimes are only growing in number, size and sophistication as the Internet of Things (IoT) evolve and smart devices become more prevalent, resulting in larger and larger price tags for businesses who aren’t protected against these kinds of attacks.
In the short, the magnitude of cybercrime operations and their impact can’t be ignored. Besides suffering from sensitive data loss and financial burdens, companies can also experience brand damage from a cyber-attack. An attack can also put your customers at risk, such as the data breaches that have affected Equifax, Yahoo! and Facebook in the past. On top of everything else, the downtime a company experiences when recovering from an attack can be almost as costly as the attack itself, costing roughly $141,000 on average. And laws in the United States are often not current enough to adequately address cybercrime and effectively punish its perpetrators, leaving companies even more vulnerable.
Fortunately, there are ways that business owners can both protect against and prepare themselves for cyber-attacks by learning the different ways that cybercriminals can target a business and what can be done to keep your data and other important information safe from scams and attacks.
Ransomware is one of the most common ways that cyber criminals attack businesses. It involves a type of malware with a simple mission: to lock or encrypt a user’s computer or even an entire network and demand a ransom be paid to restore access to sensitive data. Often, these types of attacks are timed, with the risk of losing access to important files forever if the ransom isn’t paid by the deadline.
Essentially, ransomware holds your sensitive files or data hostage and it’s often complex and costly to regain access to your data. Every organization is at risk for a ransomware attack, but cybercriminals tend to focus on organizations that hold sensitive data like law firms and banks or groups that are perceived as having smaller security teams or a high level of file-sharing, such as a university. The popularity of ransomware attacks is on the rise, with a 350% increase in reported attacks in 2018 – and a recent trend amongst cybercriminals has been the use of cryptocurrencies as a ransom payment method.
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind to avoid ransomware attacks is to keep your system regularly updated and never open email attachments from an unfamiliar source – this is how cybercriminals can gain access to and control over your computer and it’s one of the most common ways that they can deliver malware to your system.
Phishing utilizes a technique called social engineering – wherein cybercriminals pose as a legitimate person or institution over the phone, email, or text message to lure you into providing sensitive data such as personal identification information, banking information or passwords. This information can then be used to access important data, possibly resulting in left and/or financial loss.
Phishing is one of the oldest types of cyberattacks, dating back to the 1990s and it’s become widespread as phishing techniques get more sophisticated as technology develops. Often, cybercriminals can successfully use phishing by employing techniques that cause the targeted victim to feel panicked – such as conveying a sense of urgency from an email address that looks to be from their banking institution or cable provider, for example. They may ask a victim to act fast to change their password or verify information, causing the target to believe that that they need to provide this information quickly.
A good way to avoid these types of scams is to pay attention to the email addresses or phone numbers themselves and always contact the supposed source if you feel unsure of a request that’s being made. Most businesses will never ask you to provide your information over email or text message, so it’s worth double-checking to make sure the communication is valid.
Data breaches are a major security incident in which your company’s sensitive information is accessed without authorization. The large amount of sensitive data that is usually housed by corporations and businesses make this type of cyber-attack attractive to criminals. It tends to be profitable to cybercriminals and their techniques have become more advanced as technology develops.
Cybercriminals typically seek sensitive information to steal money or identities or sell information over the dark web. They usually take advantage of vulnerabilities in a system – like out of date software that creates a hole for them to get malware through. Weak passwords that can be easy for criminals to guess is another way that they’re able to gain access to your data – which is why long, complicated passwords are often a requirement now. There’s also the potential that a data breach could be the fault of the business itself – someone could unintentionally download a virus that takes advantage of a browser or operating system that has a security flaw.
Criminals can also use the same methods employed in phishing and ransomware attacks to breach your company’s data – so it’s advisable to periodically update your systems, be wary of unfamiliar emails or email attachments and regularly change your passwords to keep criminals from being able to guess them.
How You Can Protect Yourself and Your Business from Cybercrime
While the statistics can seem scary, there is some good news for those who want to make sure their businesses are protected from the financial and emotional strain brought on by cyber-attacks. Making sure that your business is covered by a good cyber liability insurance policy is key to protecting against the effects of attacks.
While some insurance policies may offer liability coverage for data breaches and privacy claims under their general liability insurance policies, most weren’t designed to respond to the modern threats posed by the 24/7 information environment we currently inhabit. And although cyber liability coverage isn’t required in every state, knowing that your business is protected from damages related to a data breach and claims filed against you is invaluable.
Cyber liability insurance provides small businesses and independent contractors with coverage to help protect against the financial burden created by a data breach. Cyber liability insurance offers both first- and third-party coverage – meaning damages your company may have caused, or damages caused to your company by another business or cybercriminal. First-party coverage typically covers losses or damages to electronic data, loss of income, extortion, the cost of notifying the affected parties and the cost of a damaged reputation. Third-party coverage covers claims made against your company, like security negligence, electronic media liability and regulatory proceedings. Cyber liability coverage is both easy and affordable.
The threats of cyber-attacks to businesses are clear, which is why cyber liability coverage is the best option when it comes to protecting your data and even your own company in the event of a claim being filed against you.
In the market for cyber liability insurance? Gallagher Affinity are experts at cyber liability and data breach insurance. We use an "A" rated insurance carrier who knows that the financial implications for a small business or independent contractor affected by a data breach can be devastating and that the best way to prevent becoming a part of a sobering statistic is to protect your business by having cyber liability and data breach insurance coverage in place.
In our cyber liability and data breach insurance coverage, we’ve created a highly effective product. Getting started with our coverage is quick and simple. You can request a quote online and easily purchase the right coverage for you. When you’re covered with cyber liability and data breach insurance from Gallagher Affinity, you can also count on having access to our 24/7/365 data breach response line – we’re there for you in case of any data breach emergency.
Our cyber liability and data breach insurance has a broad range of coverage for different aspects cybercrime, including, but not limited to:
Cyber hacking: Any compromise of your company’s digital devices — whether it’s computers, smartphones, tablets or even entire networks.
Data Breaches/Lost Information: In the event of a cybercriminal gaining access to your sensitive information and causing you to lose access to it, we’ll cover the associated costs.
Disclosure of Private/Confidential Information: If sensitive information about your business or your clients is stolen, our cyber liability coverage will pay for the associated damages.
Defense/Legal Costs: We’ll cover your legal costs in the case of a suit being brought against you by third parties due to a data breach.
Regulatory Claims and Penalties: Cyber liability and data breach insurance coverage from Gallagher Affinity is there for you if your company faces penalties due to a data breach.
Multimedia Liability: We provide coverage against defamation and invasion of privacy suits brought against you by a third party if your sensitive data is breached.
Cyber Crime and Extortion: In the event of a ransomware attack, our insurance coverage will pay the associated costs to meet the extortion demands to restore your access to sensitive data.
In addition to the comprehensive cyber liability coverage provided by Gallagher Affinity, we’ll also provide first-party protection for breach response costs, including for your employees. We also cover monitoring coverage for up to a year (or as required by law) after the event and both business interruption costs for loss of income and restoration.
Our third-party coverage covers damages and claim expenses for violations of privacy law or regulation, multimedia liability, regulatory fines and compensatory payments.
It is our goal to ensure that small businesses and independent contractors have the resources and coverage they need to help protect against the financial burden created by a data breach. The best part is, obtaining a quote for this valuable coverage just takes minutes.
Gallagher Affinity offers the kind of critical protection that’s needed in a time of crisis resulting from a data breach of sensitive company information. Our highly effective coverage is guaranteed to leave you with a feeling of security in a world of ever-changing technology and sophisticated cybercrime techniques. Contact us today to learn more about our coverage options and how we can help protect your business, your sensitive data, your employees and your peace of mind.