Cyber threats get more intelligent and aggressive every year, but today’s unprecedented circumstances have only driven this point home. A recent study by cloud computing company Iomart found that large-scale breaches have increased by 273% in Q1, compared to the same time last year. Hackers and other malicious entities are taking advantage of the fact that people are now working on their personal and less protected routers, deploying their schemes more frequently.
As an entrepreneur, you’re a prime target for these kinds of attacks. Whether they’re after the sensitive customer information that you hold or your money, malicious entities can gain a lot. Here are some of the major cyber threats every entrepreneur should know to avoid.
Ransomware is a type of malware that infects its victims’ files. Usually, the hacker uses the program to lock you out of your own system and demand a fee before they can be opened. And since you won’t be able to operate without access to your files, you’ll be forced to give up your money. The only way to avoid ransomware is by securing your data. Hire a professional to beef up your firewalls, for example, or store files into a local drive.
Then again, Entrepreneurship Life‘s guide to avoiding ransomware informs that you should be prepared for the worst-case scenario and always have a backup file. When you find yourself in such a situation, ignore the hacker’s demand, delete the breached data, and continue operating with your backup.
Chargeback abuse is when customers call the bank directly to ask for a credit refund. If the bank follows through with their request, they will forcibly take money from your account. Chargeback’s main purpose is to protect customers from untrustworthy sellers, but this system can be abused. In fact, Expat Bets, a site that reports on online gaming across Asia, writes that credit card fraud and chargeback abuse are some of the most common types of fraud experienced in online gaming. TechHQ, a well-known tech resource, notes that many online sellers fall victim to this as well, especially now that e-commerce has become the norm.
There’s no stopping dishonest customers from calling their banks, but you can avoid chargeback abuse if you keep good records of your transactions. If the bank sees that everything—such as payment amounts, authorizations, and other factors—checks out, then there’s no reason to issue a chargeback.
Phishing schemes are some of the most common and most damaging threats that face entrepreneurs globally. Last year, CNBC reports that it cost businesses US $200,000 on average. Additionally, nearly half of these attacks were targeted at small businesses. Phishing attacks are deceptively simple: malicious entities pretend to be legitimate business contacts who send you money or information requests over email. If you and your team are not careful, the results could be damaging. Fortunately, phishing emails are easy to spot. Simply check if the email address used to send them is legitimate. Don’t just check the name—see if the domain email is company authorized, too.
But as a general rule, it’s best to avoid asking and receiving sensitive information via email. There are plenty of encrypted communication channels online, like Microsoft Teams and Telegram, for you to use. Much like emails, they also allow attachments and such.
“One thing customers will readily pay for is peace of mind,” says entrepreneur Chris Danquah, one of our notable writers here at The Spirited Hub. If you ensure that your security is up to par, not only will your data and money be safe, but customers will trust you more. Eventually, this could be one of the reasons they come back to make another purchase.