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As we head into 2015, businesses must put an emphasis on IT security. 2014 was dubbed by many experts as the Year of Cyber Threats with notable attacks on Michaels, Home Depot and Target. In total, businesses across all industries reported 42.8 million detected attacks in 2014. This is up by almost a half from the year before. 2015 doesn’t look much better, which is why businesses must be proactive in safeguarding their infrastructure. With that in mind, we asked a General Networks security expert to talk about the most common cyberthreats out there and how businsses can fight back:

First and foremost, how serious are cyber threats? What are the consequences of a hacking for a business or organization?

Cyber threats are extremely serious. No matter if your company is large or small, you can be a target. Consequences can include loss of data, exposure of client and vendor data, and loss of trust by clients and vendors.

How can businesses safeguard against phishing emails?

First is user education. All users should be instructed to be careful about what they open and what phishing emails look like. Businesses might consider using a proven spam service that has excellent filtering capabilities that looks for phishing type emails

How does malware work? What software and best practices should businesses be investing in and implementing?

Malware is software that is installed on a PC without your knowledge. It can be installed on a PC by browsing  the Internet as well as other  ways like email. Once it is installed on a PC, it is capable of logging your passwords by observing your keystrokes, reading your email, and hijacking your browser to web pages that “phish” for your personal information.

Spam filtering and up to date anti virus/anti malware programs are used to keep scanning for viruses or malware.

Best practices include training users not to open email from unknown sources. In addition, they should watch what web sites they are browsing to.

Can transitioning over to the cloud help businesses combat these and other cyber threats?

One thought I had about the direction the landscape of malware and cyberthreats is going is that the cloud changes the storyline a bit, especially for small businesses who normally wouldn’t be able to afford sophisticated measures of protection. Cloud storage is quite inexpensive, and many small businesses are moving in that direction to support their basic infrastructure.  Business-focused cloud technology is generally architected with some stringent security measures in place (encryption, backup, regular updates and patching, robust firewalls protecting against DNS attacks, etc.). 

With a low price point for entry into these systems, there’s more security available to SMBs in the cloud with a lower upfront cost than could be expected for on-premise hardware.  Having all the infrastructure in the hands of the infrastructure provider allows businesses to focus on their bottom line while the provider handles regular updates and patching on the system.

These hosted cloud services have even extended to include security services that filter web content and malicious emails. That prevents the data from arriving in your network in the first place and keeps workers productive, using technology that is available at a low up-front subscription cost.

The experts at General Networks can help you design and implement a security strategy to ensure your business is protected from these and future threats. Contact us today to speak with a cloud services consultant today.