Your company computers have been running unusually slow for weeks. Then suddenly, you receive a suspicious email threatening to sell your clients’ information. That is, unless you send over an unreasonable amount of Bitcoin.

Think fast — what’s your plan of action? Because you’ve officially been cyberattacked.

Fifty-nine percent of small business owners without cybersecurity measures in place say their business is “too small” to be a target. But 82% of ransomware attacks in 2021 were against companies with fewer than 1,000 employees.

Cut the “it won’t happen to me” attitude. It’s time to protect your company.

51% of small businesses don’t have cybersecurity measures in place.

The Severity of a Cyberattack

Cyberattacks are serious business for small companies. They often result in identity theft or the loss of company data, both incredibly damaging on their own. Worst-case scenarios can include devastating disclosures of customers’ personal information.

Ransomware is a major cyberattack problem involving computer system hijacking. The attacker locks and encrypts data and key files, ultimately shutting down your business.

Your — and your clients’ — information is at risk unless a ransom is paid in exchange for system control.

Another big risk factor is social media. Allowing employees to use business computers to visit sites like Facebook and Instagram or check personal emails isn’t harmless.

It can expose the company to hackers or emails from unknown senders who can release viruses into your system.

Even if a company survives cybercrime, the damage can linger for years and result in unexpected long-term costs such as:
  • Cash reserve losses from paying a ransom
  • Lost business and customer data
  • Disruption in regular business
  • Revenue loss from downtime
  • Costs of notifying customers and shareholders
  • Legal liabilities and attorney fees
  • Hard-to-reverse brand damage
  • Productivity decreases throughout the company

How to Identify a Hack

Your Email is Abnormal

Are you locked out of your email? There’s a chance a hacker changed your password.

Have your contacts reached out to let you know they didn’t understand your strange email? Or perhaps your email inbox shows opened messages you don’t remember opening. Or worse, even sent messages have been opened.

These are tell-tale signs your email account has been hacked.

These all could be due to a phishing email, social engineering, a password hack or a forceful cyberattack. You’ll need to change your password, log out of all devices, determine the information accessed and begin contacting affected parties.

Your System is Compromised

The signs of a compromised system are:

  • A drop in computer speed
  • More pop-ups than usual
  • Random shutdowns or restarts

You may also notice someone disabled your security software. Turn it back on and keep an eye out for any unfamiliar software or add-ons.

There’s a high chance this was a phishing attack. But it could have been a “man in the middle” or a “watering hole” attack, as well.

  • Phishing emails are used to steal user data, including login credentials and credit card numbers.
  • A man-in-the-middle attack is a type of eavesdropping, where attackers interrupt an existing conversation or data transfer.
  • A watering hole attack is when cyber criminals infect a website they know their intended victims will visit.

Be honest — did you skimp on security services? Taking the cheap route can leave you with unpatched software and open vulnerabilities.

Online Storage Looks Suspicious

Surefire signs of an online storage hack are missing and altered files. Your storage software should alert you to unusual location logins or outbound network traffic. Do not ignore that red flag.

This could’ve been caused by phishing but perhaps your account was compromised. Take this time to look for suspicious administrative activity in your computer storage.

The right document storage will provide client or patient privacy and peace of mind for you. That includes:
  • A secure platform that meets universal cloud software security standards as well as privacy act requirements to safeguard data
  • Certified trained specialists who follow privacy standards when providing support
  • Protected back-end processes and vendors
  • The ability to request and share documents to avoid lost files
  • Document tracking to ensure the most recent versions are available
  • Privacy marking and document restrictions to control who can see which files

You can’t afford to cut corners. Be sure to check out ways to secure your document storage against a cyberattack.

Successful processes are what will help keep your business out of the danger zone. Be sure to evaluate the technology your business uses and create a risk management plan to combat a cyberattack.

Continue to be on the lookout for more ways to revamp your security defenses. It will help protect your clients’ information, your business’s accounts and your sanity.