5 Ways to Deter Cyber Criminals from Crippling Your Company


Cyber crime poses a threat to companies of all sizes. It now ranks in seriousness with embezzlement and other traditional types of criminal activity. Hackers and the malware they spawn cost U.S. businesses roughly $100 billion every year, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A cyber attack can also shatter your company’s reputation and ruin customer trust.

Stay alert for a particularly insidious form of online fraud known as the banking Trojan. In a typical banking Trojan scam, someone who handles finances for a business receives an official-looking email, often a fake invoice or an urgent notice from what appears to be the company’s bank. The recipient is asked to click on a link that calls up a bogus website. The banking Trojan then activates and begins wreaking havoc on the company’s accounts — including unauthorized transfers through the Automated Clearing House (ACH).

A multipronged approach is required to help keep your company protected against cyber crooks. Here are five steps to take:

1. Use a dedicated network
When you and your employees use multiple unconnected devices, a hacker or piece of malware could invade your system through any one of them. You can harden your defenses by establishing a dedicated network. In this scenario, all devices are linked to a central server or servers protected by complex passwords. Also consider installing a virtual private network to help protect remote connections — for example, when employees access the company server from a home computer or from a laptop while on the road.

2. Consider cloud services
You can avoid creating a network of your own by using remote third-party servers accessed over the Internet — that is, the cloud. Most cloud service providers charge a recurring fee to store your business data. You can also perform common business functions in the cloud, such as email, videoconferencing and financial management. Cloud service providers know their reputations depend on keeping data safe, so many tend to invest heavily in sophisticated encryption and other security features.

3. Protect mobile devices
Smartphones, laptops and tablets are some of the most vulnerable points of entry to your business. This is especially true now that many employees use their own mobile devices to access company servers (a trend called “Bring Your Own Device,” or BYOD). As mobile devices proliferate, so does larceny: theft of smartphones now accounts for about a third of all robberies in the United States according to the Federal Communications Commission. To help protect devices used for your business, make sure all remote connections are encrypted. Use the remote lock feature, which shuts down a device after it is not used for a certain period of time. Also enable “find my phone” and “wipe my phone” services, which allow you to locate your phone on a map using a Web browser and erase data from a device if it goes missing.

4. Train your team
One of the first lines of defense against online fraud is having a well-informed and alert staff. Keep your employees aware of the dangers posed by hackers and malware, and explain how fraud can hurt the company. Distribute written guidelines and use them to train new employees. Place special emphasis on proper handling of your company’s confidential information, including financial data and customer and personnel records. Reinforce the training at least once a year and keep an eye on trends in cyber crime so you can update the guidelines accordingly.

5. Keep a watchful eye
When your computer system is compromised, a cyber crook can bleed your business without anyone noticing. Look for unusual activity in your financial accounts. Areas to examine include credit and debit card transactions, checking accounts, wire transfers, ACH activity and online bill payments. If you notice anything unusual, freeze the affected account and work with your account provider to resolve the problem.

City National Bank is committed to helping your company guard against online fraud. For more advice on implementing safeguards, visit City National Bank’s Fraud Prevention Center and download our tip sheeton protecting your business online.