Technology is rapidly evolving every day; it’s constant, and with the changes and introduction of AI technology into the mainstream market, tech has boomed even faster and even bigger than ever before. It’s not just about the advances in tools, phones, computers, or even workplace security, but it’s even bigger than that. While all of these changes are good, at the same time, they can be deemed as bad, too. Scams are something that’s not new; from the classic Nigerian prince emails to Microsoft calls, scams have been around essentially forever and have been targeting basically anyone with computer access.
With that said, however, while people are getting smarter, businesses included, so are the scammers. As you know, getting scammed is detrimental to your mental health, finances, and security, but it has destroyed businesses before, too sadly. So, what can small businesses do to avoid falling victim to scams, especially since scams are becoming more clever and less obvious? Well, here’s exactly what you need to know!
What you can expect in this article:
You Need to Understand the Landscape of Online Business-Targeted Scams
Like technology, scams are also evolving, and honestly, it might get to the point where it’s going to be more challenging to pinpoint what’s real and what’s not. With deepfakes, AI photographs, and AI voice replication being so prevalent, it might truly become more challenging. But until then, when the lines become too blurred, it’s best to at least have a solid idea right now of what the current landscape is like. So the five current ones that you can currently expect are:
- Social engineering
- Ransomware attack
- Financial scams
- Identity theft
- Phishing scams
These don’t only affect individuals but a lot of businesses, too. In fact, it’s not just big businesses; scammers and hackers absolutely love going for small businesses since they usually have the least knowledge on protecting themselves. Plus, large companies have major departments to avoid this, like their IT department. So, you should definitely consider small business IT support, because this is going to be one of the best ways to keep your business protected from threats.
Secure Your Physical Environment
While yes, you absolutely need to have IT support, whether it’s in-house or outsourced, it honestly shouldn’t stop there since you’re also going to need to look into your physical environment too. It’s true that most scammers will infiltrate and put your business at risk strictly from a distance, such as online, but it’s not just that either.
There’s always the chance that they might be able to get access to your business, physically speaking, whether it’s your office, home office, workspace, shop, you name it. So be sure to have a security system and surveillance, and use a paper shredder whenever you can.
If your small business isn’t insured, then you’re doing it all wrong! You absolutely need to protect your business, and insurance is the way to do it. In fact, since scams have unfortunately become so common, most business insurance will usually cover this to some degree. So it’s best to shop around.
Teach Your Employees About Social Engineering
While it’s super important to teach employees standard security measures like not clicking suspicious links or going to questionable websites (the basics that everyone should know), it shouldn’t end there. While yes there should be training for this, one thing that a lot of companies don’t give training on would be social engineering.
It’s especially more important nowadays to watch out for social engineering due to AI images and AI voice replication. But they need to know to not give out sensitive information, even if it sounds like someone they know. It’s tough, but since scammers are getting more witty, businesses need to be more cautious.
Monitor Network Traffic and Behaviour
If you have an IT team, then you can count on them to look into this, but if you don’t have one, then you’ll need to be sure to regularly monitor network traffic and user behaviour for signs of anomalies and potential scams. Early detection can prevent a minor issue from becoming a major breach.
Always Do Extensive Employee Background Checks
Is it rude or unprofessional having to resort to doing background checks on employees or hirees before they’re fully onboard? No, absolutely not; in fact, you’re probably closely protecting your company by doing that, too. While it’s not common, some employees may apply and work for a small business just to get an idea of how tightly secured the business is, and then they plan on stealing or doing criminal activity in it. It’s grim to think about, and thankfully, it’s not common either. But in general, you just want to be wary of those who might have access to sensitive data, and a background check can help.
Regularly Run Security Audits and Vulnerability Assessments
The thing with scammers is that if they see a weakness, they’re going to try to do what they can to exploit it. This is why you’ll need to regularly have audits and assessments within your business. This can be both online as well as your physical space, but the whole point is so there aren’t any vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
Be Careful What’s Posted Online
One thing that a lot of business owners, as well as employees, do would be to let their selves be known and the work that they do. This can be LinkedIn, social media, websites, you name it. The problem would be giving out way too much information, information that could easily be exploited by scammers. Essentially, you might be indirectly giving scammers and hackers enough information for them to swindle their way into phishing, social engineering, identity theft, and so on. So be sure to not post too much about what you do online or your team, no matter how tempting it might be.
Educate Your Customers When You Can
Just as businesses can get targeted, so can customers, and sadly, businesses can still face getting a damaged reputation all due to their customers getting scammed (even if the business had literally nothing to do with it). So make sure you let your customers know about this and what potential scams that might be out there impersonating your brand.