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Every day hackers release new cyber-attacks against businesses in every industry. This had led to many companies installing stronger virus and malware protection. Though this is definitely a step in the right direction, there’s one area where many companies are still lax.

Employees simply don’t understand how dangerous it is for them to use business computers to get their email and catch up on social media. All it takes is one person clicking on a malicious link to download ransomware. Then your business will come to a screeching halt until you deal with hackers who will want a substantial sum of money to restore access to all your data files.

The Answer Is No!

Company computers should never be used by employees for personal use. Though it may seem like innocent web browsing, it can and will put your company at risk. Social media account takeovers have become commonplace with 160,000 Facebook accounts being hacked daily according to a recent survey.

In the past, many company owners were lenient in this area. We all enjoy being able to jump online and check our email a few times throughout the day. What’s the harm in updating your Facebook status? We’ve all done this from time to time. But ransomware attacks rose a startling 250 percent in 2017.

The WannaCry ransomware attack was released in the UK last May with thousands of companies around the world being hit at once. It was the largest global ransomware attack in history. The damages were eventually estimated at over one billion dollars. In spite of this, many companies are still not training their employees in IT security best practices.

Some business owners did not pay the ransom. They came up with their own solutions for getting their data back from hackers. But any solution is going to be costly.

Ransomware Is Now an Epidemic

Today, security experts are saying that hacking and ransomware have become an epidemic … that it’s the “go-to method of attack” for cybercriminals. All it takes is one careless employee on one company computer.

Hacking has become big business. Even small businesses are not immune to hackers. They typically do not have the best security protection. They don’t have a budget for employee training. In the past, small business owners believed they were safe. They thought that hackers would go after bigger targets. But hackers are always looking for the easiest way to steal your money and run. They’ve learned that small businesses are vulnerable.

Turning Company Computers into Zombies and Botnets

One of the recent changes to the way hackers do business is quite alarming. Instead of stealing your money, they steal your identity. Malicious software can be hidden in advertisements, downloads, attachments, websites, and many other locations. Then when the user clicks, the hacker takes over the user’s computer. This is happening more frequently in small businesses.

Hackers take over a number of computers and then turn them into a Botnet. The Botnet or Zombified computers are then used to click on ads. The goal is to make it look like a company is much more popular than it really is. These robot computers click on ads over and over to distort the market. Advertisers are paying big-time for this.

Hackers can use zombie computers for any number of tasks. Once they have control, they can send out spam to your entire database. Imagine the chaos. Zombie computers are also used to mine bitcoin. This happens in the background on many personal computers and the users don’t even know they’ve been hacked.

How to Spot Whether Your Computer Is A Zombie

  • Popups appear over and over
  • Your computer runs slowly
  • It doesn’t function as it should
  • The fan may speed up for no reason

A botnet can be comprised of multiple internet-connected devices such as laptops, servers, workstations, and the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Any device on your network is susceptible. All cybercriminals have to do is infect one computer and then the virus spreads throughout all of them. Now your system is controlled by malware.

Instead of getting your work done each day and building your business, your network can be used to carry out many automated malicious tasks.

Should You Allow Employees to Work From Their Personal Computers?

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies can help your employees become more efficient. Many workers appreciate being able to carry out tasks on their mobile phone or laptop. But is this really safe? Unless these devices are completely secure and remotely monitored, they can pose a huge threat.

As in the example above, a careless employee can download an infected document or visit an unsafe website. If their device is connected to your network, then the infection can spread like wildfire. What can you do to stop this scenario from taking place?

Establishing Strict Regulations Regarding Computer Use

In a perfect world, employees should never use their personal devices on your company network. This is a recipe for disaster. But in today’s modern world, this just isn’t realistic. Employees don’t understand the dangers and they’re not trained to spot phishing schemes, malicious websites, and infected attachments. And yet, it’s very tempting to allow employees to use their own computers and smartphones to complete tasks at work.

What you can do to keep your company data safe:

  • Ask your IT Service Company to set up and initiate a Mobile Device Management program for users who are enrolled in a BYOD program.
  • Make sure your employees are well-trained. They should be fully aware of what’s at stake. They should know how to spot phishing emails and what to do.
  • Ask your IT service provider to install a multi-layered, enterprise-based defense solution that protects all your IT assets from intruders.
  • Keep track of all the BYOD devices on your network.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Create a strict policy for employees where they are not allowed to check personal email on a company computer. Make sure that all employees who are working in your BYOD program have the right security on their devices, including phones and laptops. Perform regular security training for all employees. They should be fully aware of the latest cyber threats around the globe.

If you suspect that one of your computers has a problem, get professional IT specialists to come out and check your system ASAP.

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