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This is the price we pay for being connected in a multitude of ways and for effectively spending more than 15 hours online a week on average. This figure is set to rise quickly as more products and services become available through the web and obviously, some people spend significantly more time than that online at work. Only recently at the beginning of this year nearly a quarter of a million Twitter users had their personal accounts hacked, showing us that whether it’s at work or on our own personal online accounts, we are all vulnerable without appropriate measures in place.
If you are the victim of a cyber-attack try not to feel too bad about it. It’s now more common than ever and there are more hackers out there who consider it a personal challenge to try and “crack” a well-known or large infrastructure, believing it to be a noteworthy achievement. Never mind that it is completely illegal and dangerous to boot, these incidents do more harm than even the hackers sometimes know about and it costs our economy millions each time.
When the personal and private data that is gathered by some companies is stolen and released into the “wild” it causes big problems for not only the business who are trying to keep the information secure but also to their brand image and reputation. Some live and die by this and a simple hack of internal information could be all it takes to initiate the downfall of a business.
Many businesses are attacked online multiple times and they are not even aware of it and in 2012 over 80% of small businesses suffered hack attacks, with over 93% of larger firms being attacked also. It has become a bigger concern now than ever before, especially with so many businesses heavily reliant on their IT infrastructure and of course, this is where hackers look to cause the most damage.
Cost to the Economy
We could be sitting at our desks when all of a sudden we are hit with a spam attack warning or a virus message from our anti-virus software and panic sets in. At this stage though, usually the anti-virus does its job and takes care of it but amazingly there are still companies out there who are fully invested in using computers within their business and yet they don’t have any virus protection at all.
As staggering as this fact is it’s not that surprising considering the statistics in the UK for the number of affected businesses. Small businesses incurred on average between £35,000 to £65,000 worth of damage in 2012. Make no mistake, these figures are astronomical for a small to medium business and could potentially ruin the company. Larger companies lost on average between £450, 000 to £850, 000 which really hit the economy hard last year.
With IT we can get bogged down with not being “technical enough” but it is often the case that the simplest solution is the most effective and that is certainly the case here. With 80% of total cyber-attacks last year being preventable by using best practice initiatives, it shows how poorly prepared we are to fully comprehend the damage these attacks can do. Blocking suspicious emails, using a spam filter and ensuring that sensitive data is encrypted and protected are all processes that can be actioned to stop hackers in their tracks. Basic principles that everyone knows but that some choose to ignore, either because of cost or because they truly don’t understand the repercussions.
With hundreds of IT Support companies in the UK there really is no excuse for a business to not have even an entry level support contract to secure their servers and internal systems. Hack attacks are not just for spreading viruses and in some cases they can collapse a server, crippling the business systems. Unless you have an internal IT department who knows server architecture and maintenance inside out, your business would just stop.
A dedicated support contract would mean your servers would be back up and running as soon as possible, and you would have real-time monitoring to identify any further potential threats through emails or other integrated systems. It’s simply not worth the time and money businesses spend afterward in trying to fix the problem when the damage is already done.
A warning to any business who is running an integrated system, is heavily reliant on their computer system or maintain a website, is to take very seriously the threat to your business from outside sources. Pay the money, get the added security and gain some peace of mind. You think it won’t happen to you but the chances are you won’t even see them coming.
Charlie works with Abtec Network Systems and is a fanatic on security, ensuring businesses are making the right choices for protecting against cyber attacks.