Getting hacked is a scary thought for business owners in 2022. Unfortunately, it seems the question is no longer if it will happen but when. More than 80% of U.S. businesses say they have been hacked.
Early detection is crucial to mitigate and eliminate the effects of a data breach. Here are six of the most common signs that your business has been hacked:
Files or programs not opening or working properly
One of the first things hackers will attempt once they gain access to your network is destabilizing it. They will delete crucial files and programs or alter them in a way that makes them behave irregularly. If you notice that files or programs are missing, it's a red flag that something's wrong.
What to do: Take data restoration steps to restore crucial data and get it to work properly again. The easiest way to do so is through data backups. In more severe cases, it's best to seek professional guidance from incident response experts.
Unusual corporate bank account activity
It's no secret that money is the primary motivation for hackers. The first thing they'll do is try to breach financial accounts. Only if that fails will they resort to other tactics like ransomware or network monitoring. If you notice money transfers to unknown recipients or purchases that have nothing to do with your business, you may have been hacked. Criminals will sometimes transfer smaller amounts at a time to prevent raising suspicion.
Don't forget that insider threats are also relevant in this case. Make sure employees aren't abusing corporate credit cards before you call 911.
What to do: Contact your bank immediately. They will secure your accounts and possibly reimburse some or all stolen funds. Educate employees on how to use corporate bank accounts securely and keep credentials safe. According to NordVPN - to avoid the risks of hacking, educating employees is one of the best things you can do.
Suspicious network activity
If you detect suspicious network activity such as logins or file tampering during irregular times, investigate it immediately. Monitor logs for any abnormal activity. The most effective way to do so is with monitoring tools. Keep in mind that monitoring tools return plenty of false positives. It's best to have a real person analyze the alerts and determine whether there's an actual threat.
What to do: Immediately disconnect any devices and networks jeopardized in the attack.Change your login credentials to ensure threat actors can no longer access your network.
Customers receiving spam emails
If you receive complaints from customers about spam or inappropriate emails, hackers might be at fault. They might be trying to lure your customers into a dangerous website or get them to give up financial information. Your customers may not recognize the scam and send over their information. Investigate the nature of the emails that were sent to determine whether there are outside actors at play.
What to do: Your marketing team should closely monitor all outgoing emails. If suspicious emails are coming from your accounts, notify your customers and instruct them on the best course of action. Change your passwords and ensure employees follow security best practices to prevent future email breaches.
Devices running slower than usual
It's not unusual for devices to run slower from time to time, especially if they've been working hard. But if you notice a device being unusually slow for days at a time, it might be running malware in the background. Apart from running slow, the device may also show other strange behavior such as:
- Screen fidgeting;
- Random cursor movements;
What to do: Disconnect the device from your network and turn it off. It's best to hand it over to digital forensics experts. They will analyze the machine and figure out if and how it was breached. A forensics report will include any malicious processes that were running in the background.
Your vendor experienced a data breach
If one of your vendors was hacked, your business is at significant risk. Hackers can use the vendor's systems to gain access to your system and steal sensitive information. Third-party risk
is a commonly used term in cybersecurity. Many of the most significant data breaches in history are due to third-party vendor risk.
What to do:
- Change passwords on all accounts.
- Analyze the data you share with vendors.
- Limit sharing sensitive data like login credentials as much as possible.
Recognizing a cyber attack early on can significantly limit its impact. Be on the lookout for any suspicious or unusual activity on your network. Change your passwords regularly to prevent hackers from having prolonged access, and keep raising employee awareness on cybersecurity threats and best practices.