What does your business stand to lose in a cyber attack?
used with permission from Microsoft US Small and Midsize Business Blog
Not long ago, I blogged here about a new type of cybercrime called ransomware. But when it comes to cyber crooks, apparently they’re also using some old-fashioned methods to breach businesses’ systems. The 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report from Cisco shows cybercrime is growing. Here’s what could be at risk for your business.
How are cyber crooks getting in?
While highly complex cyber attacks are increasing, the Cisco report notes that “classic” attacks are on the rise as well. For example, adware that gathers information about a user’s computer without telling them and malicious spam emails are common attack methods. In fact, spam is flying at levels not seen since 2010. According to the report, almost two-thirds (65 percent) of all email is spam, and 8 percent to 10 percent of spam is malicious.
Another risk for businesses is when employees select and use their own third-party cloud apps on company computers. Respondents to the survey say more than one-fourth (27 percent) of employee-introduced cloud apps led to “significant” security issues for their companies.
What do you stand to lose?
Of course, money is at stake in any cyber attack — but businesses, especially small ones, often lose much more than that. Security breaches can affect all aspects of a targeted company, from its operations and finance to its brand reputation and customer loyalty.
More than half of businesses surveyed that had their data breached were subjected to public scrutiny as a result. They also suffered some measurable losses:
- 29 percent of businesses that were breached lost revenue; 38 percent of those lost more than 20 percent of their revenues.
- 23 percent of businesses lost business opportunities after a cyber attack; 42 percent of those lost more than 20 percent of their potential new business.
- 22 percent of businesses that suffered a cyber attack lost customers; 40 percent of those lost more than 20 percent of their customers.
How can you protect your business from a cyber attack?
Keeping your small business safe from cybercrime requires constant vigilance to stay on top of new threats. The task may seem so daunting that you’re tempted not to bother — but as the figures above show, no small business owner can afford to take that risk. Here’s what you need to do to protect your business from cyber attacks.
- Develop cybersecurity practices for your business, including both technical and behavioral protections.
- Guard your systems with firewalls, antivirus software and automatic updates of operating systems and software.
- Regularly test the security of your systems. Cyber criminals never rest, and neither can you.
- Make your employees your first line of defense. Educate employees on the importance of following your cybersecurity policies, such as changing passwords frequently, not opening suspicious emails and not downloading software or connecting to unauthorized cloud services on company computers. Enforce consequences for not following the policy.
- Identify common methods that cyber criminals use. Emails that appear to be from someone within the company or spam emails with unusual attachments or hyperlinks are things to watch out for.
- Always back up your data in case of an emergency, and choose a backup system that lets you restore your lost data quickly.
The most important step in protecting your business from cybercrime is taking cybersecurity seriously. As the leader of your business, you need to model the behavior you want your employees to follow when it comes to keeping your business data and networks safe from intruders. Devote time, effort and a chunk of your budget to cybersecurity, and your employees will see that you mean business when it comes to protecting your business.
Read more about August 2017's managed services newsletters.
What is a Computer Virus?
Used with permission from Norton by Symantec
A computer virus, much like a flu virus, is designed to spread from host to host and has the ability to replicate itself. Similarly, in the same way that viruses cannot reproduce without a host cell, computer viruses cannot reproduce and spread without programming such as a file or document.
In more technical terms, a computer virus is a type of malicious code or program written to alter the way a computer operates and that is designed to spread from one computer to another. A virus operates by inserting or attaching itself to a legitimate program or document that supports macros in order to execute its code. In the process a virus has the potential to cause unexpected or damaging effects, such as harming the system software by corrupting or destroying data.
How does a computer virus attack?
Once a virus has successfully attached to a program, file, or document, the virus will lie dormant until circumstances cause the computer or device to execute its code. In order for a virus to infect your computer, you have to run the infected program, which in turn causes the virus code to be executed. This means that a virus can remain dormant on your computer, without showing major sings or symptoms. However, once the virus infects your computer, the virus can infect other computers on the same network. Stealing passwords or data, logging keystrokes, corrupting files, spamming your email contacts, and even taking over your machine are just some of the devastating and irritating things a virus can do.
While some viruses can be playful in intent and effect, others can have profound and damaging effects, such as erasing data or causing permanent damage to your hard disk, and worst yet, some are even design with financial gains in mind.
How do computer viruses spread?
In today’s constantly connected world you can contract a computer virus in many ways, some more obvious than others. Viruses can be spread through email and text message attachments, Internet file downloads, social media scam links, and even your mobile devices and smartphones can become infected with mobile viruses through shady App downloads. Viruses can hide disguised as attachments of socially shareable content such as funny images, greeting cards, or audio and video files.
To avoid contact with a virus it’s important to exercise caution when surfing the web, downloading files, and opening links or attachments. As a best practice, never download text or email attachments that you’re not expecting, or files from websites you don’t trust.
How to protect against computer viruses?
As you can see, just like a vicious flu virus, a computer virus is something that you want to avoid. The terms virus and malware are often used interchangeably; however, a virus is one of many types of malware, and only one aspect of the overall threat landscape. As a result, traditional antivirus software alone will not fully protect you from all threats.
Instead, look into comprehensive security software like Norton Security. With patented technologies that work together to outsmart online threats, scanning your system for viruses, and running continuous automatic silent updates, Norton Security keeps you protected from existing, new, and even yet-to-be-invented threats. And if a virus slips through on our watch during your subscription period, Norton support experts will do everything they can to help fix problem at no additional cost. That’s the assurance and peace of mind you only get with our Norton Virus Protection Promise. No other free or paid security software service offers this kind of guarantee.
Read more about August 2017's professional services newsletters.