Everyone has been guilty of using work computers to check their email. While you’re at it, why not see what’s going on at your favorite social media site? This is the beginning of what could turn out to be the worst day your business has ever experienced. It only takes one uninformed employee to click on an attachment in an email or visit a bad website to shut down your whole business.
Thousands of companies across America and even around the world have experienced a data breach. It has quickly become the number one crime that robs a business of its revenue and its reputation. The truth is that hackers are now working around the clock to come up with new and more ingenious ways to steal your data. With cybercrimes expanding all over the world, many small business owners are starting to take this more seriously.
Are You Allowing Employees to Use Work Computers for Personal Stuff?
In the past, employers have felt like it would be cruel not to allow their employees to occasionally check their email at work. But today most security experts agree that this is just a bad idea. Your company’s security may be top-notch, but one careless employee can do thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. No matter how strong your Internet security is, if your employees visit a malicious website or open a phishing email, they could quickly download a malware virus.
Have You Heard About Zombies and Botnets?
Today’s hackers are doing a lot more than just stealing your data. The latest trend for cyber thieves is to hijack your computers and turn them into zombies. Hackers can control zombie computers remotely. In many cases, these thieves will take control of several computers at your workplace. Once this happens, they can create a botnet. Now they have a small army of computer power working to help them commit their crimes.
Below are just a few of the things that cyber criminals can do once they take over your computers:
- Send out Spam
- Mine bitcoins
- Steal data
- Exploit the owner’s resources
- Replace banner ads in your web browser specifically targeted at your company
- Perform distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS attack)
- Display pop-ups ads that try to get you to purchase phony anti-spyware
- Generate fake Internet traffic on a third-party website for financial gain
You May Have Already Been Hacked
The saddest part of the story is that it often takes a business owner months to realize that they’ve been hacked. If you’ve noticed a change recently in the way your network responds or the performance of your computers, then it’s a good idea to call in an IT professional to check everything out. Business owners are usually shocked to find that they have had a malware virus lurking in the background of their network for months. They simply can’t believe hackers were able to pull this off.
But you must remember that cyber-crimes pay very well. These criminals are often backed by a small country’s government. This has been a lucrative way for Eastern European countries to earn good money each year. A recent article in Business Insider says that the average hacker can earn $80,000 a month or more. Anyone would want to earn that kind of money simply by sitting in front of a computer all day, right?
With the resources of a whole government behind them, there’s really no stopping today’s cyber thieves. The next best thing is to formulate a strong set of cyber security best practices for your workplace—And enforce it. It’s also important to train your employees so they will know what to look for. Phishing emails are pretty easy to spot if you’ve had a little training. It’s well worth your time and money to call a local managed IT service provider and ask them to hold training classes for your employees.
With the world moving toward machine learning and artificial intelligence, there’s every reason to expect that the usage of computers and the Internet will continue to grow all over the world. For hackers, this is good news. But for business owners, many new avenues are opening up all the time where cyber thieves could penetrate your security perimeter and steal all your data. Your company could be shut down until you pay the ransom.
How to Protect Yourself From Cyber Criminals
Excellent Internet security should be your first line of defense. Be sure to install patches and updates to all programs as soon as they’re available. Establish a strict Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program that can monitor and delete company information from a lost or stolen device. Train your employees on a regular basis. Since the world of cyber-crimes evolves at such a rapid pace, it’s important for you and your employees to stay current on the latest threats.
Even if you have an in-house IT department, it can be very helpful to have a local IT consultant come in and assess your Internet security. Once you develop a good working relationship with a company like Tektonic, you’ll have outside resources to back you up in case you suspect that an employee has downloaded malware. Tektonic can also set up regular employee training so that your staff is your best line of defense instead of your weakest link.
You can benefit from working with our IT service company. Whether you need occasional help with big projects or someone to assess your network security, we can help. We can set up a good solid Bring Your Own Device program for employees who want to use their own devices for work.
As your IT service provider, we can install a multi-layered, enterprise-based security solution that protects all your IT assets from the latest threats. Our goal is to help you avoid the pain, expense and embarrassment of a cyber breach. We’ll partner with you to get your network resources working optimally so your team can be more productive. We believe that when our clients succeed, we do as well.