business-web.jpgWASHINGTON — Cyber attacks against small businesses are growing increasingly sophisticated. Criminals use spoofed emails, malicious software and online social networks to obtain login credentials to businesses’ accounts, transfer funds from the accounts and steal private information, a fraud referred to as “corporate account takeover.”

To combat this type of fraud, the American Bankers Association is providing advice to small business owners.

“Our nation’s small businesses remain in the crosshairs of cybercriminals,” said Frank Keating, ABA president and CEO. “A strong partnership with your financial institution is the best way to prevent and protect your business against these attacks.”

As part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, ABA offers small businesses these tips to help prevent account takeover:

Protect your online environment. It is important to protect your cyber environment just as you would your physical location. Do not use unprotected Internet connections. Encrypt sensitive data and keep updated anti-virus and anti-spyware protection on your computers. Change passwords from the default to something complex, including at point-of-sale terminals.

Partner with your bank for payment authentication. Talk to your banker about services that offer call backs, device authentication, multi-person approval processes, batch limits and other tools that help protect you from unauthorized transactions.

Pay attention to suspicious activity and react quickly. Put your employees on alert. Look out for strange network activity, do not open suspicious emails and never share account information. If you suspect a problem, disconnect the compromised computer from your network and contact your banker. Keep records of what happened.

Understand your responsibilities and liabilities. The account agreement with your financial institution will detail what commercially reasonable security measures are required in your business. It is critical that you understand and implement the security safeguards in the agreement. If you don’t, you could be liable for losses resulting from a takeover. Talk to your banker if you have any questions about your responsibilities.