The growing threat of cyber crime is having a massive impact on the way people do business on the internet. A Herjavec Group study shows cyber crime damages are expected to hit $6 trillion per year by 2021, which is double the amount from just a year ago. Cyber crime is changing the way consumers behave online, and it causes enterprise-wide security issues and concerns for all B2B operations.
And with so many of our devices being connected to the web, today the stakes are higher than ever. “Tech companies are getting it. They are investing effectively,” notes Neustar’s Deborah Clark-McGinn. “They are figuring it out because they have felt the pain and they are investing to the right level to mitigate these attacks. Tech firms are always going to be [targeted], but it is important to note they are investing more and seeing positive results.”
Related: Phishing in All Its Forms Is a Menace to Small Businesses
Security consultancy KPMG’s Michael Daughton agrees. “We are seeing a shift among clients in relation to this in so far as, even just a couple of years ago, cybersecurity was seen as an IT issue, now it is very much moving centre stage as a business issue and one that is receiving more emphasis from board level down,” he says.
Let’s take a closer look at five ways that cyber crime is impacting B2B companies — and how to overcome them, without compromising data safety or visitor security.
1. Identity theft paranoia is hampering lead capture.
For B2B sales and marketing pros, lead generation is vital to the bottom line. Data from VPN Mentor show that over 95 percent of Americans are concerned about how companies use their data.
Due to the threat of identity theft, along with long-standing concerns about spam, prospects are increasingly reluctant to hand over their contact information. This means that traditional lead capture forms aren’t performing like they used to.
Traffic intelligence software like Leadfeeder can help you mine your anonymous traffic for usable leads. This tool uses your Google Analytics data to reveal the companies that have visited your website, and then pushes that information to your CRM and email tools for non-invasive sales follow-up.
Related: What Happens When Your Small Business Is Hacked
2. Concern over credit card data hacks impacts sales.
With data breaches on the rise, credit card leaks are becoming more common, and they impact both B2B and B2C ecommerce websites. Consumers are increasingly warned about posting credit card information, and that is likely preventing some of your sales. Recent massive data breaches have been all over the news, including the Target hack of 2014, which compromised some 70 million customers.
Shopping cart abandonment rates vary considerably, but they’re often shockingly high, ranging from 55 percent to 75 percent. According to Statista, 17 percent of abandoners bounce because of concerns over payment security.
Improve customer confidence two ways. Make sure your site has updated SSL certificates and strong HTTPS encryption. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your information will be 100 percent safe 100 percent of the time, but it does make it more difficult for hackers to access any data transmitted. Secondly, use trust badges to ease user concerns and improve conversion rates. Badges like those offered by Verisign, PayPal and McAfee demonstrate that your business meets stringent security guidelines, which helps people feel like their data is safer with you.
Related: Just Being Proactive Isn’t Enough: What Entrepreneurs Should Do During a Cyber Attack
3. Protecting your assets from ransomware is now a must.
Ransomware is increasingly cited as one of the year’s biggest security threats. “The days of single-target ransomware will soon be a thing of the past,” Stephen Gates, the chief research intelligence analyst at NSFCOUS, tells Tech Republic. The new generation of attacks, he notes, “will carry ransomware payloads capable of infecting hundreds of machines in an incredibly short timespan.”
With ransomware, it’s not if but when, as the recent wave demonstrates. Waiting for government or law enforcement to fix this is wishful thinking. The legal system moves slowly, so the time it would take to get any legislation passed for punishments leaves room for attacks to occur rapidly. And besides, it’s not always possible to track down the culprit.
Protect your business from ransomware via team training and vigilant backups. Automate regular data backups using a tool like Code42, so you can always have something to roll back to when ransomware rears its head. Educate your employees regarding suspicious emails, and instruct them not to click links that just don’t seem right. And if think you may have been infected, disconnect all of your networked devices immediately, to prevent the threat from spreading further.
Related: Is Your Data Safe? Here Are 10 Countries With the Most Data Stolen.
4. Cookie consent is spreading beyond the EU.
Six years ago, all EU countries adopted privacy legislation to protect consumers from having their personal information tracked unknowingly. The law requires that websites let users know if they are using cookies — and get consent from site visitors to track them. Websites must also explain what data is being collected via the cookies and how it is going to be used.
While there is no comparable law in the U.S., any company that targets audiences in the EU must follow these guidelines. If you don’t handle this cookie request correctly, it can backfire, especially when it comes to ecommerce sites.
I recommend that you use third-party cookie consent management tools like The Cookie Collective or Cookiebot. They’ll automatically add cookie consent compliance to your website for you.
Related: How to Protect Yourself and Your Business From Online Criminals
5. Connected devices are extra vulnerable.
The internet of things (IoT) has made things more convenient for many, but as many as 200 billion devices will need securing by 2020. Without extra protection, it’s possible for hackers to hijack those devices to wreak havoc on computer systems. Consider, for instance, the smart refrigerator that sent spam to thousands of email addresses.
Until we start protecting our smart devices with antivirus software in the same way we protect our computers, tablets and smartphones, we’re inviting increased risk. A recent study from TripWire found that 96 percent of IT security professionals are bracing for an increase in cyber attacks on the industrial IoT.
Make sure to protect your network with IoT encryption. Use a secure boot, digital signatures and protect software with key-based signatures. Symantec, for example, offers turnkey solutions to help secure IoT.
Protect yourself and your customers.
With the rapid growth of cyber crime, businesses are presented with a number of challenges. They must demonstrate trust to consumers, while taking steps to protect data. These solutions can be put in place now to minimize future disruption.