Have you ever wondered how someone could steal from your company over the Internet? Cyber theft is an ever more prevalent problem faced by small businesses just like yours. Here we explain what cyber theft is, how the computer hackers come to gain access and, most importantly, how you can improve your IT security to keep you, your company, your customers and your assets safe.
Firstly, cyber theft is defined as the act of stealing personal and/or financial information from computers to be used illegally. This can include your bank details themselves as well as your passwords, security answers and other information which can then be use to hack into your account. The people who breach your IT security systems to gain access to this information are called computer hackers and most sell on this data to third parties who can further exploit this information. Large scale examples of cyber theft include Target (70 million customers’ card details), Ebay (145 million users’ login details), Yahoo (1 billion users’ data including passwords and security information) and Anthem (80 million records hacked into at the USA’s biggest health care insurers).
Computer hackers gain access to confidential records and sensitive data in a variety of ways. Most can penetrate your systems remotely but sometimes a physical act is used to hack a computer. Leaving your computer unattended in a public space offers a computer hacker the opportunity to plug in an infected USB stick and embed malicious software (malware) on the machine. Old school, malicious and opportunistic but effective. Alternatively, an infected email as part of a phishing scam could contain a link to a malicious website or begin a download with malware embedded within it. And then there’s the good old fashioned hacking whereby simple passwords can be guessed, leaving your accounts open to tampering and exploitation.
As a business, you have a responsibility to keep the information of customers safe which is why you need to be vigilant when it comes to IT security. Make sure you run regular training sessions with all of your employees to ensure they are aware of the risks and dangers which come with working online. As well as using more complex passwords, be sure to regularly change them (once every month or two is recommended) so computer hackers can’t repeatedly abuse your systems. It is also worth investing in cloud data protection. This ensures all of your files and data are backed up in a far more impenetrable system than a physical hard drive. Finally, install anti-virus software and, most importantly, keep it up to date. Regularly released updates are not there to annoy you. They are there to patch weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the existing version. Computer hackers like easy targets and computers running an old version of software is something they specifically search for.
It’s a dangerous world out there and IT security should be a top priority for any small business. While multinational corporations such as Yahoo and Google have suffered breaches in the past, day to day computer hackers typically target smaller companies because their IT security systems are weaker and easier to bypass but they often have healthy bank balances and large reams of customer data which really deserve better protection. Don’t make yourself a target for cyber threat and invest in your IT security to protect not only your own finances but those customers who entrusted their private details to you.