The internet provides businesses both large and small, with many advantages in terms of new demographics as well as untapped market opportunities. When your business goes online, you also get the opportunity to touch base with your regular audience, developing rapport and means to better serve your customers.

However, this new exposure comes with wide ranging online security risks, which is why businesses need be aware of and mitigate exposure in this regard.

Below are some of the aforementioned risks:


Phishing is a widespread form of internet fraud and could lead to exposure of customer information, trade secrets and other sensitive information. Here, a cybercriminal will send legitimate looking emails to various contacts within an organization, hoping that that they click on the links and reveal personal or business data including usernames & passwords to company systems.

In a business scenario, an employee may even receive correspondence that appears to come from the IT department, a colleague or manager in their own company requesting access to sensitive information. If employees fall prey to this type of scam, they can unwittingly expose the organization to fraud and even massive data breaches of sensitive and private information.

Effective anti-spam measures, employee training and relevant internal procedures can mitigate the risks in this this type of scam.

Malicious code, Viruses & Ransomware

Black hat hackers and other cybercriminals send malicious code (could be spyware, ransomware, viruses or general malware) to business/employee accounts in the form of malicious links or attachments. Once the payload is triggered, the code replicates itself across the company network, infecting workstations, servers and other attached systems allowing the attackers to make off with company data and in some cases even giving the attackers complete control of the network.

Often, the malware takes the form of ransomware, where the malicious code encrypts all available data and documents on the victim’s computer (and sometimes entire networks) and financial demands are made to unlock or decrypt the data to make it accessible again. Bitcoin is a popular payment choice for attackers as it’s essentially untraceable but very often, victims have paid the ransom only to find that they do not get their documents/data back.

Up to date anti-virus protection, anti-encryption software and a comprehensive backup strategy can help protect businesses against these types of threats.

The Human Factor

This is defined as security's weakest link. Employees are always going to be in possession of critical business information and if they do not safeguard such information, chances of compromise become incredibly high. Staffers might become victims of social engineering attacks, where someone simply talks them into providing access codes and passwords to crucial information systems within the organization.

The best way to handle this risk would be to entrust critical information to specialized and trusted employees. Staff training also goes a long way towards keeping everyone aware of the risks.

Unsecured Wireless networks and Employee Gadgets

One of the easiest ways for hackers to get access to company servers or general devices involves targeting open or inadequately secured wireless networks. Afterwards, they get to know what other devices are logged on and then go on the attack. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy by some businesses allows employees to use unsecured phones and laptops to work, which increases the threat of compromise.

Correctly securing your WiFi network and enforcing strict security protocols on every mobile device under management can limit your exposure in this regard.


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