Small and moderately-sized companies often have to place most of their focus and resources on expanding their business. This means that precious little resources are left for other matters, including safeguarding data from cybercriminals.
Identity theft is one of the most popular forms of cyberattack these days. The Federal Trade Commission claims that companies of all sizes experienced 91% more identity theft attacks in the first quarter of 2021 than in the final quarter of 2020. The number of such incidents on mobile phones only keeps growing. However, protecting your business and employees from mobile identity theft doesn’t have to be a herculean effort. Here are a couple of simple methods to ramp up the security measures and keep your sensitive data safe from hackers.
Recognize the Threat
To prevent identity theft, you first have to recognize it. Identity theft is a form of a cyberattack where a hacker assumes someone else’s identity to gain access to financial data and identity papers so they can commit fraud.
Fraudsters do this by gaining access to the company’s financial records, credit cards, business information, and employee details. There are many tricks hackers can use to get this information. However, the most common ones are cracking the employee’s password, phishing attacks, and viruses.
On mobile phones, identity theft is more difficult to uncover. As a result, attackers can use the target’s smartphone account details undetected for much longer. If that happens on a company’s phone, it can make banks, clients, and partners harder to convince that you’ve really been hacked.
Mobile Identity Theft
Mobile identity theft is a widespread occurrence these days, and there are numerous types of such attacks you should be aware of.
This type of attack is basically phishing, only done via text SMS messages. The attacker assumes the identity of a person who can help one of the company’s workers. The employee only has to send a message to the contact info address the attacker provides, allowing the attacker to obtain sensitive information about the business.
An experienced fraudster can make a copy of your phone’s electronic serial number (ESN) and mobile identification number (MIN). By doing this, they effectively create a copy of your phone and can rack up phone charges with mobile providers who cannot tell the difference.
Scammers can obtain your info from the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange (NCTUE), which is an organization that supervises data and payments. If hackers gain access to this data, they can close your account. Then they can use their newly procured entry to gain control of your other connected accounts, such as bank accounts or business emails.
Phishing, Malware and Virus Attacks
These traditional cyberattacks efficiently gain access to your business phone and all accounts stored on it. Attackers then use this data to assume your identity and damage your reputation or that of your company. It can also be used to obtain phone data that can be sold on the dark web.
This form of mobile fraud usually results from using some of the previous attack methods to gain sensitive information. Hackers contact a mobile provider and use this information to convince the provider that they are you. Then, a hacker asks for a new SIM card to be issued through which they monitor and track all calls and messages that you get. Hackers can also gain access to authentication processes that protect your accounts.
Setting up strong protection against identity theft is relatively easy to accomplish. Therefore, small businesses should set up prevention measures in advance rather than later dealing with the fallout of costly cyberattacks.
Protect Company Files
One of the offline security methods a company can use is to invest in a secure mailbox or filing system. Sensitive information such as tax returns, bank statements, customer information, and more should be kept in cold storage outside of the reach of hackers.
Another form of protecting company files is using shredders when discarding seemingly obsolete or unimportant business documents. You’ll prevent scammers from stealing these documents and reduce the threat of fraud.
Keep Online Company Files Safe
A small company can protect sensitive files by employing antivirus programs, anti-malware and anti-ransomware tools, and firewall apps. Internet Security packages from major cybersecurity companies such as Bitdefender have all the tools and technology small businesses need at an affordable price. This includes dedicated phone apps aimed at keeping smartphones safe from hacking and phishing attempts.
Another method to keep business-related files safe online is to consult with internet providers and ask about their measures for safeguarding your files. Ask them about security vendors they employ and check the vendor’s site to see how regularly they update security protocols and solutions, along with what type of data they protect. You shouldn’t rely on your internet provider for cybersecurity, but you definitely should switch if they take very little care about securing their network.
Use Additional Network and System Safety Practices
Even if you’ve installed a network security solution and have access to cold storage for the most important company files, your job in securing your organization from malware attacks is not done. A few more practices can come in handy, especially if you use a WiFi network for job purposes.
These practices include employing a VPN that encrypts all data you send and receive. Also, make sure to conduct regular malware and virus scans to eliminate any potentially malicious code in your system before it causes irreparable damage to sensitive data and the company’s reputation.
If the computers in your firm are using the Windows operating system, activate automatic system updates. New updates often add security features or patch loopholes that hackers love to exploit. The same goes for updating the software your employees use.
If possible, use secured wireless connections and cloud storage services to keep important data safe. Limit administration rights for employees and their work devices, which will prevent the unintentional installation of harmful software on their devices.
Conduct Cybersecurity Training
Small businesses are only as secure as the least computer-savvy employee is familiar with digital protection measures. Workers need to be trained in cybersecurity to realize its importance and use it proactively, including mobile phone protection and phone number tracing.
Some larger companies train their employees once a year to reevaluate their knowledge and make them aware of the most recent forms of cyberattacks and frauds. It is also a good practice for small businesses, as it will significantly improve overall data security.
Plan User Data Access
We’ve touched briefly on user data access in the section about network practices. Not all employees need to have insight into all business data. The goal here is to create different access levels for various employees by a system administrator who will let them peruse the data they need.
Data access also includes setting unique usernames and passwords for each work computer. These credentials should not be distributed among employees. If a staff member leaves the company, the administrator can easily shut down their account, and should do so immediately.
Use Strong Passwords
We can’t stress enough how crucial it is to use strong passwords that are difficult to crack by hackers. You’d be surprised how many employees in small and large businesses use elementary passwords such as 12345678, QWERTY, or 11111111.
A strong password has a combination of uppercase letters, special characters, lowercase characters, and numbers. It should also be at least eight characters long and replaced every 90 days. In case you have problems remembering passwords, you can rely on password managers to create and remember passwords for you.
Another effective security measure for passwords is to mix them with two-step authentication systems or additional codes that you insert along with the password to gain access. You’ll need administrator approval to install password managers and activate 2FA systems.
Check Credit Reports
One way to determine if your business was compromised is to check credit reports. They express the company’s creditworthiness, which serves to get financial approvals and discover suspicious activity. You can use these reports to notice problems you may not even be aware of.
We all know that the internet is a dangerous place. And the only way for your company to stay safe is to invest in protection from identity theft and other forms of cyberattack. The measures we’ve mentioned in this article are highly effective and economical. They’ll provide peace of mind for you and your employees, and that’s worth investing some time and resources into.