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Computer Security and Online Shopping: Protect Your Network

December 5, 2016

Computer Security and Shopping: Protect Your Network

Believe it or not, there is a risk to computer security at work when your employees shop online. Here's what you need to know for the holiday season.

 

Every single business in every part of America has a wide variety of important considerations on any given day. From cash flow to customer satisfaction, and everything in between, the list of things to ponder is considerable. But, in all of this, there is one issue that is fastly making its way to the top of the business priority list: computer security.

 

There are very good reasons for this. 

 

The world we live in is constantly changing, and advances in technology occur on an almost daily basis. Going online is a vital part of the business day.

 

But, while the internet undoubtedly brings an enormous catalog of rewards, it comes with significant risks too - especially for businesses.

 

Computer Security And Your Business

Online security breaches of all kinds make headlines across the world every single day. Online scammers, cyber criminals, and internet hackers continue to become more and more sophisticated in their approach.

 

And, the more polished they become, the more vulnerable we are to having our identities stolen, our privacy violated, and our files compromised. 

 

This, of course, is not the best news for the everyday internet user, but for businesses, it can be fatal.

 

Online Shopping and Computer Security

 

One of the most pertinent threats posed to businesses today comes in a rather innocent, seemingly innocuous form: the employee who shops online during the work day. 

 

Whether we like it or not, with the holidays quickly approaching, employees will use their breaks to shop online. And they'll use the company network to do it.

 

It really doesn't matter what device they use either. It can be a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet or a company smartphone. Anytime employees shop online using the business network, it introduces a risk to your business.

 

But, the good news is, you can minimize that risk. You can take steps to protect your business, your customers, and your employees. 

 

Unsure where to start? Don't worry, we've got all the information you need

 

Let's break it down.

 

Potential Threats to Your Cyber Security

 

As cyber criminals continue to strengthen the depth of their deceptive operations, it's important to understand the variety of sources they use to infiltrate your computer security.

 

When a security breach occurs, in most cases it is because your employee has inadvertently downloaded malware onto your system. This can come in the form of viruses, worms, trojan horses, and other malicious programs.

 

There are a number of different methods that can be used to target unsuspecting employees. Here are two of the most threatening:

 
Phishing 

 

This is the most common, and most effective form of internet scam and it's particularly costly to businesses. 

 

In a phishing attack, cyber criminals masquerade as trusted entities like a bank, or a company that you deal with on a regular basis. It mainly comes in the form of fraudulent emails, but it has become more common in the Social Media world.

 

They will then try to dupe the employee into clicking on links and other fraudulent material so they can either install malicious software onto your network or steal your information outright.

 
Ransomware

 

Imagine this scenario.

 

Your employee does a little Christmas shopping online during a down period in work. They receive an email from a company purporting to be a delivery company.

 

'We'll deliver within 3 - 5 working days, just click on this link to track your item'.

 

So the employee clicks on the link.

 

And, boom. They open up a world of trouble for your business.

 

Almost 40 percent of all businesses have been hit by a ransomware attack in the past year. In American businesses, almost half of those attacks came as a result of an employee clicking on something they shouldn't have in emails. 

 

But, what exactly is ransomware?

 

Put simply, it's a type of crime where fraudsters hold your entire system hostage. The criminals break through your computer security, lock down your system, and encrypt your drives and files.

 

They then usually demand a large payment to give you back access to your own data.

 

Computer Security - How to Protect Your Business 

 

There are some immediate steps you can take to protect your business from all kinds of internet fraud. It's absolutely critical to secure your network by strengthening its defenses.

 

Here are some ways to do that:

 
Educate and Train Your Employees

 

Your first line of defense is ensuring that all employees are fully versed in all things related to cyber crime. 

 

Hold training sessions where employees are informed about the risks of opening up emails, clicking on links, etc.

 

Within those training days, you might include the following essential elements:

 
Tell tale sings of a fraudulent email:
  • Poor spelling and grammar within the email

  • Use of generic i

     

    ntroductions - Dear Customer, Dear User

  • Any kind of threat in the email - Your account is at risk, Your account will be disabled


When Shopping Online - HTTPS://
 

Any time employees are purchasing anything online, there are two absolutely essential things that must appear in the address bar:

  • The URL must begin with https:// for confidentiality and safety
  • The browser must also show an icon with a closed lock.

If the address bar doesn't contain these two things, exit the page.

 

Things Your Business Can Do

Once all employees are briefed about their responsibilities, there are some essential steps that the business can take as a whole. 

Here are some suggestions:

  • Ensure that every employee has a Firewall on their computer.

  • Constantly keep that Firewall and all Anti-Virus software up to date - Consider automatic updates. 

  • Create strong, unique passwords for all employees and ensure that those passwords are not shared with others. Have different passwords for different systems.

  • Change those passwords every 30 - 60 days.

  • Have a reporting system where anything suspicious can be reported instantly by employees.

  • Encrypt all confidential data on smartphones, laptops, flash drives, and other portable devices in case they’re lost or stolen.

  • Never make sensitive transactions at a wireless hot spot. Always save sensitive activities for trusted connections.

  • Consider acquiring the services of IT specialists to help you keep your business safe and secure.

Computer Security - A Vital Cog in Your Business Machine

It's probably fair to say that computer security isn't just an important consideration for you and your business; it's an imperative tool if your business is going to thrive into the future.

 

And, who doesn't want their business to thrive?  

 

If you need more information, are seeking advice, or are just plain curious about these issues and more, reach out and talk to us.

 

We're always happy to help.  

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