Malicious software or malware has come to affect businesses in profoundly negative ways, such as costing millions of dollars per incident and crippling public services that people rely on. It’s one of the biggest threats to today’s business world, and they come in different shapes and sizes. Here are some of the most common forms of malware.
- Viruses are programs that replicate in three ways: removable media, web downloads, and from email attachments. Although some do very little damage beyond minor glitches and changes, such as changing your desktop wallpaper, other viruses can render operating systems unusable.
- Worms replicate themselves from computer to computer by sending out infected emails to users in a victim’s email address book. As more and more computers become infected, several networks can become incapacitated.
- Ransomware is a type of malware that holds computer or network data hostage by encrypting it. Perpetrators demand a fee (usually in bitcoin) to release them, but there’s no guarantee they’ll do so.
- Trojans(trojan horses) , as the name suggests, are malware disguised as seemingly innocuous files or programs. Once downloaded, the malware invades the user’s computer, deleting data, creating backdoors around security processes, or sending spam emails.
- Spyware is software that installs itself on a computer to quietly collect, track, or steal sensitive data and information.
Rootkits are programs that install themselves, execute files, and make changes to computers and systems. They are difficult to detect even by expert monitoring tools and are now often bundled in cryptocurrency malware.
Effects on SMBs
In general, malware does two things: gain access to a computer network and damage it. Critical business systems and software can go down or become useless or critical business data can be stolen or lost. The long-and short-term effects this can have on a business can vary.
Related article: Spectrumwise’s Ultimate Guide to Email Security
Malware that attack data and systems can be catastrophic, as they can force critical business processes to come to a halt. Malware-initiated business disruptions can come in many forms. All the software on your network can be hijacked and clients can’t be served. Information can also be altered or deleted and be rendered irrecoverable if the company is unprepared. Or your systems may be hijacked until your company pays criminals asking for a ransom.
In healthcare, malware attacks can prove fatal, as patients may be denied much-needed care. How much would your business be affected if it didn’t have access to crucial data? Keep in mind that every hour of downtime can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Loss of customers and revenue
Most companies store customer and client information on their computers. If you manage a legal, financial, or healthcare organization, you must protect the confidentiality and integrity of this information. If this information is stolen and used to harm the customers you serve –– people whose information you’re responsible for safeguarding, no return business will likely come from these customers ever again. Such losses may even mean the end of your organization.
Malware can also lead to your business paying damages to these employees and customers who have had their personal data compromised. You will likewise have to pay legal fees to deal with these disgruntled customers wanting to sue you. Additional financial losses include forensic fees and regulatory fines for which your company could be liable. Additional cybersecurity costs may naturally follow to prevent future attacks.
Further loss of reputation and credibility
Because your business is entrusted with the personal and financial information of your clients, its reputation will suffer when failure to protect this information is made known to them or to the public. Not only will existing customers depart, but potential investors and potential talent/hires will stay away.
Most businesses recognize the threat of malware, but the ultimate challenge is how to prevent it. There are many solutions out there, each with their own advantages, limitations, and drawbacks. No one solution is 100% effective or comprehensive enough. You need a security partner, an expert who will implement and employ a variety of solutions and protocols.
Spectrumwise is a managed services provider (MSP) with expertise in multilayered security and IT monitoring. They will help your company develop a system of protection and remediation, including endpoint protocols and regular updates of all your business applications. They’ll protect your systems with cost-effective solutions such as spam protection, password management, multifactor authentication, and more. Find out more today.
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