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Cybersecurity – Why it’s Important and Why Your Company Needs to Protect Itself

Technology and the rise of the Internet have improved many business processes in terms of quality and efficiency, but technology also brings an increased risk of cybercrime. Cybercrime is a general term to describe any criminal activity carried out through the use of computers or the Internet, and it’s a major issue surrounding businesses of all scales. According to McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, cybercrime is estimated to have cost companies $600 Billion in 2017, a number that continues to rise every year.

Should you protect your company with cybersecurity? Of course, you should! 43% of cyber-attacks target Small Businesses, so don’t think that your company is safe even if it’s not a mega-corporation. Here is a brief overview of common cybercrime tactics and how you can protect yourself from them:

  • Phishing: Phishing is a cyber-attack sent through email where the attacker claims to be a member of an organization. By disguising as a helpful employee rather than spam, phishing works by tricking employees into giving out their valuable information. Phishing is the most popular form of cybercrime, and a successful phishing attack could cost $1.6 Million.
    • Spear Phishing is a type of phishing that’s even more personalized. With Spear Phishing, emails are specifically made to target individuals, with its language tailored to the unique target. For example, a spear phishing email could be addressed from your boss’s name and have a link to sign up for an event with your google account. Once you’ve ”logged in”, you’ve instead given the attackers your account information!
    • How do you avoid Phishing and Spear Phishing attacks? The important part is training your employees on how to spot and avoid these kinds of fake emails. Never click on any link that you’re not confident of its source, and always double-check that emails sent to you are actually sent from the actual source. If you’ve ever unsure of a specific email, the best thing to do is to ask for help from an IT expert!
  • Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks: A Distributed Denial-of-Service is an attack that targets and shuts down websites by crowding them with excessive web traffic. Think of your website as a parking lot that can only fit 20 cars; when someone initiates a DDoS attack, it fills all 20 slots in the parking lot, thus not allowing anyone else to use your website. DDoS attack occurrence has risen more than 2.5 times in the last three years, but there are ways to protect against these attacks.

In addition to Disability Awareness month, October is also National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Cybersecurity is a very important issue for businesses at all scales, so please make sure to protect yourself against cyber criminals!

Do you want a more personalized discussion on what you can do to protect yourself? Sign up to receive cost-free consulting from the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center! Pittsburgh is becoming a global center for fighting cybercrime, and our small business experts can help grow your company to improve its cybersecurity as well as providing expert advice on business plan development, financial analysis, pre-venture planning, marketing, and much more. We can help take your company to the next level!