Cyberattacks are rapidly growing in scale and sophistication. Many attacks are orchestrated by criminal organizations working through the Dark Web, and they’re getting more advanced every year. However, one of the greatest threats is the fact that an increasing number of attacks target specific organizations or individuals. These are often the most dangerous attacks, since they’re better planned and executed with a very specific goal in mind.
Targeted attacks typically come in the form of spear phishing scams. Like conventional phishing scams, these attacks usually arrive as emails appearing to be from trusted sources. In the case of spear phishing, the apparent source of the email is usually a company or an individual that the victim already knows.
Being the favorite targets of cybercriminals, employees of SMBs are most likely to fall victim to targeted attacks. However, certain employees tend to be more vulnerable than others, as you’ll learn below.
Consider which individuals within a company are potentially the most valuable to a cybercriminal. Executives and others high up in the firm tend to know a lot more than anyone else in the company. They’re more likely to have unrestricted access to all the data handled by the company.
With more authority than anyone else, executives make the perfect target for social engineering scams. After all, if a spear phishing scam targeting an executive succeeds, the criminal might be able to gain full access to top-level company secrets.
Company executives are among the most likely targets of all for a whole raft of cybercriminal activity, ranging from ransomware attacks to phishing scams. Being in such a position, executives are also the face of the company and a defining element of its branding.
Unsurprisingly, when executive members of your organization end up losing customer or employee data to cybercriminals, it can hurt the credibility and reputation of the whole business enormously.
Sales staff are perhaps even more likely than executives to be targeted. They are the people in your organization who are most likely to be dealing directly with personal and payment information. Many cybercriminals consider sales team personnel to be an easier target, assuming them to be inadequately trained in data security. In fact, oftentimes, a single phone call or email may be enough to have a member of your sales team unwittingly give away confidential data if they drop their guard for a moment.
Social engineering scammers targeting sales teams are also likely to target specific members of staff. They may even act as a potential client or an existing client that the employee knows. In such situations, it’s often not too difficult for a scammer to encourage the employee to download a malicious attachment or click on a bad link.
For the most part, the best way to protect your sales team is to limit what sort of information they’re allowed to disclose over certain channels, such as email or telephone. Watching out for suspicious email attachments is also critical.
With a wealth of personal and employee information in their hands, HR employees are another prime target for scammers seeking to gain access to confidential data. The reason for this is that many cybercriminals see HR teams as relatively easy targets, even if they might not be of the highest value.
After all, HR teams handle huge amounts of documents, which are more likely to be of the digital kind these days. Unlike printed documents, digital files can contain malicious macros, links or other content.
The best way to safeguard your HR team from cyberattacks is to standardize document submissions. For example, HR teams handle a lot of résumés, which may be submitted in vulnerable document formats or via emails containing malicious attachments.
To avoid these potential dangers, it’s wise to set up an employee portal on your company website to reduce reliance on email and document submissions. Recruiters can also use online platforms to standardize the application process and avoid having to communicate directly with applicants.
Although the employees mentioned above are among the most frequent targets of cybercriminal activity, it’s important to remember that everyone in your organization is a potential target. Here at Dyrand, we provide the full range of managed cybersecurity services so that you know about any potential threats before they can become a problem. Talk with our experts today to learn how we can help you protect your company.