Many business owners do not recognize how sophisticated cybercrime has become. Threats may come from isolated individuals, but many of the most effective hacking strategies are deployed from illicit organizations. These cooperatives will move laterally across software, hardware, and human resources to identify weaknesses and search for critical information. One small business was a recent victim to a multi-pronged attack, and the example is a case-in-point of hacker intelligence.
The business’ customer – not the business/victim – was the initial target. By way of the customer’s email server, a program was installed without alerting anyone to its presence. The piece of software searched for sensitive information in emails and discovered the customer and business conducted financial transactions via wire transfer. The hacking organization used this information to forge an email to the customer. The email justified a request for banking information with a wire transfer.
The customer sent the information over without considering the possibility of foul play. Within short order, $100,000s were deducted from the business’ account. In this case, the victim was not the source of weakness, and its security systems were pried open incrementally.
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to hacking ploys because they do not believe they will be targeted. According to the New York Times, “Computer security specialists say these crimes, called ‘corporate account takeovers,’ have become increasingly common, and small businesses are especially easy prey because many lack firewalls and monitoring systems.” A firewall is a critical line of defense for your business, but we can all do more to ensure a higher level of protection.
In collaboration with our security partner Dell SonicWALL, we want to spread the word to small businesses and emphasize the importance of basic protections, such as firewalls. We also want to raise awareness of hacking activities. Where security is concerned, you are protecting your information, as well as the information of everyone you connect with.