News Feature | November 11, 2014

Cyberattacks Increase Leading Up To The 2014 Holiday Season

By Cheryl Knight, contributing writer

Cyber Threats And Data Security

According to an NBC News article, the rate of infection on computers by BackOff malware increased by 57 percent in August and 27 percent in September. These figures originated from a report completed by the security firm Damballa. The report indicates an increase in malware attacks by hackers heading into the 2014 holiday season.

After 2013’s cyberattack at retail giant Target in the days leading up to and including Black Friday, the question on the minds of your merchant IT clients: Should they be concerned about their customers’ data falling into the wrong hands? Adding to concerns, as SC Magazine article points out, new variants of BackOff malware are now making their way onto retailers’ point of sale (POS) systems.

Threats And Defenses

BackOff malware targets POS in particular. Last year, the attacks against Target affected more than 40 million customers — and big businesses aren’t the only organizations being targeted. Many SMBs are particularly vulnerable to such attacks because their budgets for security to defend against cyberattacks are not as big compared to larger companies’.

So, what can IT solutions providers do to help their clients fight against and prevent this sort of malware from affecting them?

“A company just using anti-virus is doing below the minimum,” says Damballa’s CTO Brian Foster, in the NBC News article. “Prevention is never going to be 100 percent. They need to start detecting what and where the threats already are.”

In addition to using normal preventative measures, such as anti-virus tools, companies should also monitor the traffic on their networks in an effort to spot any potentially questionable activity or to spot active infections. This is especially important with such malware as BackOff, because it is not detectable by conventional anti-virus software. These measures should allow retailers to quickly respond to any threats and more effectively shut them down before they do harm.

In the article “Warning: Your SMB Customers Are The Targets Of Cyberattack,” cloud-based Security-as-a-Service (SECaaS) is suggested as a way to block threats before they can get to a network.

The Consequences Of Not Protecting A POS System

The infographic from My Digital Shield referenced in the above article points out one in five SMBs is the target of cybercrime each year — and the average total costs associated with a single cyberattack are about $300,000. The long term effects to you client’s reputation can be even more costly, resulting in reduced profits and, for about 60 percent of SMBs that are the victims of cyberattacks, closing their doors within six months of the data breach.