A Quick Lesson In Turning Computers Into Zombies
This has become a common occurrence. An employee takes their lunch break, then logs into their personal email account to check their email. No harm, right? Next thing you know they’ve clicked a link in an email they thought came from their bank. Now, all the computers in your office are locked up and there’s an ugly message scrolling across the screen about paying a big ransom.
In spite of the headlines, employees are still falling for the same old stuff that hackers have been doing for years. But these days, hackers and cyber thieves are upping their game. They’re working overtime to create targeted phishing campaigns that could fool anyone. They’re developing new ransomware viruses that go to work immediately locking down all your files so you aren’t able to access anything. The only recourse? Pay the ransom and hope they keep the word and restore all your data.
If you’re lucky, they’ll only want a small amount of money this time. In some cases, though hackers make huge financial demands that range from a few thousand dollars to $100,000. They’re targeting small businesses and healthcare organizations right now. Both these types of entities have become good, easy targets for hackers.
In small businesses, there usually aren’t very strong security protocols in place. Many just have antivirus software and a firewall and that’s about it. Any hacker worth his salt could break through those defenses in a few moments. That makes thousands of small businesses across America vulnerable to hackers.
For healthcare organizations, cyber thieves are anxious to break through their security fortress because of the treasure trove of information that lies waiting. Anyone in the healthcare industry should understand this. Doctors, hospitals and clinics collect much more information about each individual they see. Healthcare records include more than just your name, address, phone number, and date of birth. They also include sensitive information about your health. This type of information will bring premium prices on the dark web. It’s valuable. And it’s readily available. So why not steal it?
Turning Computers Into Zombies
Hackers are looking for computers that are easy to infect with viruses. Sometimes, they quietly infect your computers with malware that will turn them into Zombies. You may not find out that your computers have been affected for months.
Once they download their virus, they can use your computers to mine bitcoin. Sometimes they use the computer’s address book to send out spam emails to all your contacts. Hackers have found some powerful ways to take over computers and use them for various purposes.
If they can take over several of your computers, they can turn your Zombies into a Botnet. This gives them more computing power to complete their illegal tasks. In the meantime, your staff can’t get their work done, because your computers are slow or they’re acting up. Only a professional IT guru can find these viruses that are hiding in the background and eliminate them.
So Should You Allow Employees to Go Online and Check Their Email?
As tempting as it is to go online at work to catch up on life outside the office, don’t do it! A company device should only be used for company purposes. It’s just too risky these days. You should have a strong policy about this at your company that is strictly enforced.
Below are a few important steps to protect your company from cyber-crime:
- Security programs with layered intrusion prevention including firewalls, antivirus, data encryption, email and web protection.
- Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking to reveal how effective your security measures are.
- A Cyber Security plan that outlines what your people should do if a breach does occur.
- Daily onsite and offsite backups of your computer system.
- Mobile Device Monitoring with security for all mobile devices and support for your BYOD (bring your own device) plan.
- Comprehensive protection for laptops, servers, tablets, and other computing devices such as point-of-sale machines.
- Security Awareness Training to educate your employees.
- Remote monitoring and management of your network and computers that detects intruders and blocks them immediately.
Cyber Crime Is A Highly Successful Business
One of the reasons? This type of theft is backed by large governments. Communist governments are hiring the best and brightest hackers, then giving them the best tools to work with. For businesses all over the world, this is an expensive problem that’s not going away anytime soon. It pays well and there’s no way to catch these thieves. Though the viruses and ransomware are usually traced back to Russia, China or North Korea, the U.S. government would never make a move against powerful countries like this.
That leaves American business owners bearing the brunt of this crime. In addition, new software programs are developed each year that can easily get into a network and scan it for vulnerabilities. If you don’t have the best IT security, you can wind up being a victim.
In some cases, these ransoms go to fund illegal activities in third-world countries. Often though, these cyber thieves are just trying to pick up a quick buck.
If you’re ready to move your network security to the next level, why not contact Outsource IT Solutions Group? We can put together a strategic plan for improving your security technology. If your employees use mobile devices for work, we’ll set up a program to protect your data from intrusion.
Outsource IT Solutions Group serves all of the Chicagoland area with a full suite of professional IT services.
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