How long do criminals monitor networks and collect data on transaction behaviors? Longer than you may expect. The answer is 18-24 months, and although they take their time getting to know you, once they have been successful in taking your money, they quickly transfer those monies to several other accounts reducing the chances of recovering your loss. Account takeovers can happen to anyone, including businesses of any size, consumers and financial institutions. In fact, small businesses are actually victimized more often than large businesses and nearly 29% of cases reported come from small business. There are three main threats to small businesses which include masquerading, intellectual property theft and cybersecurity breaches. In 2015, three in five companies were targets of payments fraud. Fraudster’s masquerade as company executives and request immediate wire transfers through phone calls or company emails. Although the request sounds legitimate, it’s a fraudulent transaction that transfers money, some times millions of dollars, to an overseas account. Theft of trade secrets is ranked in the top ten security threats for manufacturers. These threats come from inside the organization and require employee and vendor screening as well as securing networks, computer devises and insuring storage and access to important information is secure. Finally, digital assets such as websites and emails are vulnerable to attacks from malicious software such as malware and spyware. Most recently ransomware has been used to hack into systems to restrict access to data, that will only be released when a ransom is paid. There are several steps that may be implemented to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of cyber fraud. Installation of anti-virus software, enforcing two-factor authentication and restricting access are just a few of many precautions that can be taken. Proactively contacting your local cyber security professional for an evaluation is the best precaution, but if you suspect your system has been compromised already take action now to reduce your exposure.