How Business Owners Can Stop Data-Hijacking Malware

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According to a recent Symantec study, over 40% of cyberattacks are lodged against businesses with under 500 employees. One in five businesses becomes a cybercrime victim each year, and of that number, almost 60% fail within six months of the attack. Below is an explanation of the effects of data-hijacking malware, as well as some actionable tips for small business owners.

How Malware Puts Small Businesses at Risk

Although malware is prevalent, many business owners aren’t sure exactly what it is. Below are some basic definitions:

  • Malware isn’t a specific threat, but a broad term for any software installed to perform tasks for the benefit of a third party.

  • Viruses are software that can replicate and spread to other parts of a network. They’re programmed to damage computers by deleting important files, reformatting hard drives or consuming memory.

  • Spyware gathers information from computers, data and systems and passes it to third parties. The most advanced spyware can monitor keystrokes and report things such as passwords, addresses and credit card numbers.

  • Ransomware is a kind of software that is used to hold data hostage until the user pays for its release.

Malware Prevention Tips for Small Business Owners

Below are some of the most effective ways for small business owners to prevent malware infections.

  • Keep antimalware and antivirus software updated.

  • Keep OS, firmware and firewalls up to date.

  • Create a password policy.

  • Create and enforce equipment use policies and employee separation rules.

The most important part of malware protection is to educate employees to make smart decisions. Employees should be trained to avoid clicking on suspicious email links and websites, and to create strong passwords. In today’s connected business world, it’s every business owner’s responsibility to invest in antimalware software, create solid policies and train employees in proper system usage.

A Final Word

If feasible, it is best to have occasional security audits as well. The best way to remedy vulnerability is to have outsiders looking for it. A provider can scan systems, analyze policies and make recommendations for improvement. Cybersecurity should be a priority, and awareness should be part of the corporate culture.

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