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Computer Security Threats for Small Businesses

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Within the last 10 years there have been increased risks to security for all sizes of business but especially to small businesses.  Within the last 5 years alone there has been increased activity of breaking into a company's infrastructure that has resulted in loss of confidential employee information, and company financial statistics.  Employees need to be adequately up to date on the cause and effect of surfing the web, downloading materials and using email.

Make your employees aware of the top 4 security threats for all networks whether they be large or small

Viruses
Viruses are one of the more common ways a small business’s network security can be breached.  Stress to your employees the importance of not opening email attachments from an unknown source.  Opening these attachments can release malicious code onto the network.  Even if the emails are from a known source, make sure your antivirus software is programmed to scan all incoming and outgoing emails and their attachments.  If the email attachment does not say that it was scanned then do not open it.

 

Trojan Horses
If you are not familiar with what a trojan horse is, it's basically malware that disguises itself as something that would not be expected to be harmful i.e. email attachments, downloads from unauthorized websites (websites that are not business related such as porn or gambling websites) and video websites.  Once the trojan is in the network it plants a form of tracking device that records all keystrokes entered thus enabling unauthorized access to company financial information, customer financial information, etc.  The best prevention is to implement web content filtering to create a list of websites that are deemed inappropriate for business use.

 

Spam
This is the number one attacker of business networks.  Spam makes up approximately 10% of all email received within a business on a daily basis.  Spam can be used to deliberately coordinate an attack on a business’s email system.  These attacks overload the email systems increasing the need for additional bandwidth.  The bandwidth is forced to hit its limit in turn causing the network to fail.  There are two new additions to the spam family, image spam and news spam.  Image spam is email that contains pictures, this type of spam overloads a network faster than text type spam and again causes the network to crash.  It is harder to block since most security software looks for spam that contains text.  News spam is more often likely to be opened by anyone receiving them since the subject is usually legitimate news.  Again the best prevention is not to open any email from anyone or anything that is not recognized by the recipient.

Phishing
Relatively new on the scene are emails with fake links to financial websites such as PayPal or other financial institutions.  The email subject line will always state some sort of urgency to open the email immediately to re-enter your financial information on the so called authorized website.  Of course the link is to a fake website and by entering your information enables scammers to have access to and use that information. 

The best prevention is to educate all employees to never enter confidential company/personal information onto any website unless authorized.

These are the more common security threats that can assail a small business, although there's a lot more out there.  Ensure that you have all security measures in place constantly and that they are kept updated.  Also remember to consistently monitor your network and  check that the antivirus software is constantly updated and scanning the network for threats.

- Adelaide Business Computer Services