Cyber threats are always evolving as criminals adapt to technology changes and learn how to exploit new vulnerabilities in systems. The first step to protecting yourself is to be aware of the most common new threats in cyber security to watch out for.

This guide will cover:

  • The new and remaining threats in cybersecurity this year
  • How to protect yourself against these new threats in cybersecurity
  • How Countingup helps keep your system safe

The new and remaining threats in cybersecurity this year

We’ve listed the main new versions of cyber threats that small businesses need to watch out for this year.

Beware of double extortion ransomware

Ransomware attacks continue to threaten companies across the UK, with many high-profile attacks proving their effectiveness to criminals. This type of threat happens when hackers unleash malware (bad software) on a company’s system. The malware blocks access to your data until you pay the criminals money to get it back. 

Criminals are constantly finding new ways to attack. There are even Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) operators that develop and sell ransomware to give less sophisticated threat actors access to high-quality malware.

A recent trend is something called ‘double extortion’, where cyber criminals go beyond simply blocking access to valuable data to actually stealing it from the company. If the company doesn’t pay the ransom, the hackers sell the data to the highest bidder. According to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), double-extortion ransomware attacks have increased by 935% since 2020.

Phishing is still a problem

Phishing happens through email and text messages that are made to look like they’ve been sent from a trusted source to trick you into sharing personal information. It can be very difficult to spot threats since skilled cybercriminals can mimic the actual source almost exactly.

This threat often works by creating a sense of urgency, like saying you need to pay a bill or your subscription will get cancelled. This can trip up many people who suddenly find themselves sharing their passwords with a hacker.

At times, you may not even realise anything happened because the attacker will redirect you to the actual website of your bank (or whatever you were supposed to visit) to hide the fraud. 

It’s beginning to look a lot like… fake websites

Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, recently revealed that the British public lost £15.4 million to scammers over the Christmas period last year. A common tactic involves using fake websites that imitate legitimate websites to sell bogus items at enticingly low prices. 

So when purchasing things for your business this festive season, it’s crucial to stay vigilant and choose carefully where you shop. NCSC’s guide for secure online shopping recommends people to only fill in the mandatory details on a website when making a purchase, typically your delivery address and payment details. If a site asks for more information or forces you to create an account to complete the purchase, you’d be safer avoiding it.

In addition, NCSC recommends you create strong passwords, including a mix of upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols to make your passwords difficult to crack. 

How to protect yourself against these new threats in cybersecurity

NCSC has published an updated small business guide that details what you can do to protect yourself from cybercrime. We’ve summarised the listed advice below:

Back up your data

​​No matter how big or small your business is, it’s critical to take regular backups of your important data, such as contacts, documents, contracts, client files, and payment details. Backing up your data helps ensure that your business can still function in case of damage, loss, or theft. If you have backups of important data that you can quickly recover, you can’t be blackmailed by ransomware attacks.

Protect your business from malware

Make sure you have antivirus software installed on all computers to protect you against viruses (the most common form of malware.) Most modern operating systems have antivirus software built-in, but it’s important to keep it up to date. So make sure all your IT equipment has the latest versions installed for maximum protection. 

Keep your smart devices secure

These days, mobile technology is an essential part of our lives and business operations. You probably store a lot of information on your tablet or smartphone, right? So for that reason, it’s crucial to keep these devices updated the same way you do your computer. 

Ensure your devices and apps are up to date, avoid connecting to unknown Wi-Fi networks, switch on password protection, and ensure you can track your phone or tablet if you lose it. These are the main ways to protect your smart devices from cyber threats.

Use secure passwords

We know. It’s a pain to keep track of what feels like a billion unique passwords that all have to be difficult to figure out. But highly-secure passwords are a free and very effective way to prevent unauthorised users from accessing your devices or systems. 

The best way to create a secure password is to use a mix of lower case, upper case, numbers, and special characters. Also, avoid using words that relate to the device or system they unlock. Remember, the more complicated the password, the more difficult it will be for hackers to figure them out. 

To keep your business data safe at all times, implement a screen lock password, PIN, or other authentication methods (such as fingerprint or face unlock) on all your devices and softwares. 

For more information on keeping your data safe, read our guide about how to prevent cybercrime in business.

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