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BizReport : Advertising archives : May 25, 2016

Brands: Why you should prep for cyber attacks

Cyber attacks continue to strike hard at small businesses around the world, and while no business is 100% immune to these attacks, there are steps to take for protection. One expert expains.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: What trends are you seeing in spear-phishing?

Vidur Apparao, CTO, Agari: The rise of highly targeted email attacks - known as spear phishing or business email compromise - has been one of the most worrying developments in cyberattacks over the last year. There is no denying the industry is witnessing these attacks skyrocket both on the consumer and enterprise side. Cyber criminals have undoubtedly changed their preferred mode of attack from technical exploits, to exploiting human vulnerabilities. Why? Because these types or attacks are scalable and highly successful. Major breaches are also happening across all industries, including banking, healthcare, retail and even the education system. What we are seeing from cyber criminals is that they are becoming more sophisticated in their targeting, meaning it's hard for people to realize they are being tricked of phished. In the past, phishing emails often included URLs that linked to malicious content and this was a suspicious indicator to receivers that they were being scammed. Today, spear phishing emails are highly personalized and often contain no URLs - meaning they're harder to detect.

Kristina: What are the implications for businesses?

Vidur: In the case of spear phishing attacks, the numbers speak for themselves. Businesses that are targeted by spear phishing attacks have the potential to lose millions of dollars. According to a recent FBI investigation, this type of crime is on the rise. In fact within the last three years, 7,000 companies have had their business email compromised by successful spear phishing attacks. While estimates about the cost of spear phishing attacks vary, experts agree that it is now in the billions. The FBI also claims that the loss from business email compromise has now reached over $2 billion within the last two years. In total, there have been 12,000 victims globally that have experienced an average loss of $120,000 each. Given the scale of the problem, it's no surprise that organizations rank preventing targeted email attacks, data breaches and financial loss as their biggest priorities.

Kristina: What about the unseen costs - like those to reputation?

Vidur: The implications can potentially cause damage to a brand's image and lead to a loss of customers as a result. Recent spear phishing attacks around tax season also saw thousands of employee tax forms be sent to an unknown cyber criminal in the cloud. You can only imagine what impact this would have on employee trust if they do not feel their personal information and security is a top priority.

Tags: Agari, cyber attacks, online business, online security

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