Malware is only becoming smarter and more common, so what can you do to keep your business safe from attack?
There are three main industries against which ninety percent of cyber attacks are launched: retail, technology and government. Every 39 seconds a data hack is attempted against a business in one of those areas. If you are the owner of a small business, you should therefore ensure that your cyber security is up to the task of protecting your network and data from those who would see your company ruined.
The key to a secure business network is preparation, and by knowing what to look out for, you can ensure that your business is ready to face anything the hackers can throw at it. Here are the most common security threats your business can face, courtesy of Syntax IT Support London.
Malicious software, or malware, is an umbrella term for a massive variety of nasty computer programs. The objective of most malware is to gain access to a network’s sensitive data, scramble it, and demand money in exchange for the code to restore them (this is also known as ransomware). In the U.S. in 2017, 2500 new cases of malware and ransomware were reported, costing business owners over $24 million.
Over half of the computers in use today will have experienced some form of computer virus, ranging from the small and easily remedied to ones that cause large scale, permanent damage. A computer virus is a small piece of software that can spread from one computer to the next, usually through email. They are usually designed to scramble or steal data, potentially making your whole machine unusable until the virus is removed (if it can be removed). Having a secure firewall in place can prevent these insidious programs from entering your network in the first place.
Spyware is like something from a sci-fi horror film. It infects a machine and then lies dormant, keeping track of the user’s online movements. Keystroke loggers can be used to gain passwords to anything from your emails to your bank account.
Computer worms can spread from machine to machine without human interaction, infecting an entire business network of computers within hours. Having the right anti-virus software that can track them down quickly is essential in order to avoid a data disaster.
A Trojan horse is when a software that appears to be legitimate is installed on a PC, but in reality that program is riddled with viruses. Once a Trojan horse is on your network it can be used for a variety of nefarious purposes, including keystroke logging and stealing sensitive information. Having a professional IT consultant as part of your business is a good way to keep your system safe from this kind of attack.
‘Botnet’ is a term which refers to a network of computers that have all been infected with a Trojan horse virus. They appear to be fine, but are essentially ‘zombies’ at the control of a hacker. These infected machines can carry out a lot of malicious attacks, but are most commonly used to send spam email to all of your contacts, potentially infecting them as well.
Any weakness in your business network can be exploited by a rootkit: a series of virtual tools used to gain administrative level access to your system. Ensuring that your system is free from any such weaknesses will require the assistance of a qualified IT professional.
Addressing rogue security software
One of the most devious – and simplest – ways hackers will try to gain access to your network is through rogue security software. A box may pop up, supposedly alerting you to a new security update you need to install. Clicking on the link will usually download a piece of malware, which will proceed to infect your entire system. Having an up to date, recognised anti-virus software, and consulting with an IT firm will stop these pop ups from appearing on your computer.