The Pros and Cons of Using Business Computers for Employee Web Surfing

Each day hackers come up with new ways to trick employees into downloading malware or ransomware. The whole field of cyber-crime is expanding rapidly across the world. But many business owners do not realize that their employees are the weakest link. Employees are often unaware of all the many malicious viruses on the web today.

Each day, uninformed employees accidentally open suspicious emails, downloading Trojan viruses, malware, and ransomware. The results can be catastrophic for small business owners.

Do You Check Your Email At Work?

It may seem harmless enough for an employee to check their email or to see what’s happening at their favorite social media sites. In the course of the day, many employees will do that whether the employer knows they’re doing it or not. That’s what makes using business computers for personal enjoyment so dangerous. These employees may not be cautious when surfing the web on business computers.

Ransomware attacks have escalated just this past year by 250 percent. In spite of all the publicity, many business owners are still lax when it comes to making their employees follow the rules.

Just last year in the UK, a WannaCry ransomware was released that caused over one billion dollars in damage to thousands of different companies. In spite of all the publicity about this event, many companies are still not training their employees properly. The latest statistics show that one malware attack can cost over $1 million. It just doesn’t make sense to allow employees to use business computers for their personal web surfing.

All over the world ransomware has become an epidemic. All it takes is one careless employee and your whole company could be under attack. Once the virus is downloaded on one business computer, it will quickly spread to the others. Your employees will not be able to work and all your business data will be at risk until you pay the ransom. You can lose customers, revenue and even your reputation.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Data?

Your first line of defense should be your employees. A well-trained employee will notice if something is amiss in an email or attachment. And training employees is really not that difficult. But this is one area where business owners consistently fail to see the danger and take action.

One of the biggest problems is that many business owners believe they will not be a target of hackers because they run a small business. After all, wouldn’t a hacker be better off attacking a big company like IBM or Microsoft?

The truth is that these larger corporations have an extensive information technology department. These companies can hire the very best IT talent. In addition, they can also afford much better Internet security. They are a tough target for cyber thieves.

On the other hand, a small business owner is usually trying to get by with just a couple of IT professionals. They may have the basic security programs installed but not be able to afford the very best technology on the market today. Small businesses are vulnerable and hackers know this. That’s why they’ve become the number one target for cyber thieves who are looking for a quick buck.

Why Should Small Business Owners Be Worried About Zombies and Botnets?

One of the new ways that hackers attack small businesses is to infiltrate their security perimeter silently in the background. Some businesses will go for months and not realize that their security has been penetrated.

In the meantime, cyber thieves are stealing your computer resources. This is known as turning your computer into a Zombie. Hackers can control your company computers remotely. They can use your company resources to mine bitcoins. They can also send out spam emails to your contact list. It can be difficult for business owners to realize that they’ve been hacked. Sometimes they find out quite by accident but often this situation will go on for months before the business owner finds out what’s going on.

Another alarming trend is when hackers take over more than one computer at your company. This is called a Botnet. Hackers can use a Botnet for many things. One popular trend at the moment is when hackers use these Zombified computers to click on ads. They can make it look like a company or product is much more popular than it really is. These robot computers can be used to distort the market, costing a company thousands of dollars in PPC charges.

Below, is a list of some of the things Botnets can be used for:

  • Perform distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS attack)
  • Send out Spam
  • Steal data
  • Mine bitcoins
  • Exploit the owner’s resources
  • Replace banner ads in your web browser specifically targeted at your company
  • Generate fake Internet traffic on a third-party website for financial gain
  • Pop-ups ads that try to get you to purchase a phony anti-spyware package

How to Protect Yourself From Botnets

The first line of defense for your computers is good Internet security. In addition, make sure you update your operating system on a regular basis. Be sure to install patches and updates to other apps and programs. If you have employees who are using their own devices for work related activities, make sure you have a good BYOD program that allows you to erase your company’s information from lost or stolen devices.

The Bottom Line

Make sure all your employees get regular training at least several times per year. They should be fully aware of all the dangers on the Internet. Employees should be able recognize spam and be careful when downloading attachments. The training for your employees will pay off in the long run.

Most business owners need help in order to carry out all these Internet security best practices. Ask your IT service company about training employees. They can also help you set up a good mobile device management program for your employees. Your IT service provider can also install a multi-layered, enterprise-based defense solution that protects all your IT assets from cyber thieves.

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