Malware infections: How they harm businesses and how to protect against them

Malware infections: How they harm businesses and how to protect against them

Many small- and medium-sized business (SMB) owners aren’t too keen on prioritizing cybersecurity. Although that’s understandable, SMB owners ought to know that neglecting cybersecurity results in catastrophes often caused by malware infection.

Malware is any malicious software developed and used by cybercriminals to infiltrate computers and/or cause damage to IT networks. Viruses, spyware, trojans, rootkits, and ransomware are some of the most common types of malware, all deployed to perform harmful actions. They can infect computers in a variety of ways, and they continue to evolve. Fileless malware doesn’t even have to be installed on computers; instead, it infiltrates systems via built-in Windows tools and can attack a single machine or entire networks.

Florida SMB owners would do well to learn everything they can about the ways a malware infection can harm their business.

Business disruption

Malware infection can take over computers and networks and delete (and alter) files, crash hard drives, and steal proprietary information and customers’ financial data. They can also send harmful email for the purpose of installing malicious programs purporting to be from a legitimate entity via a technique called “phishing.”

Modern cyberattacks have become so advanced that an attack is able to infect millions of devices that can significantly reduce productivity, disrupt supply chains, and incur large clean-up costs. One study indicates that the United States can suffer huge financial losses amounting to an estimated $89 billion from a malware infection.

Reputational damage

Business disruptions resulting from malware infection are more than just an inconvenience. Malware infections can, for example, harm your website and impact not just internal operations, but also your customers’ information.

Malware is able to deface your organization’s website, install hidden malicious advertisements on it, or redirect your site’s visitors to harmful sites. These incidents can result in long-term reputational damage — something that is often too difficult and costly to recover from.

What’s even worse is when a malware infection compromises your company’s data, which may include customers’ personal and/or financial information.

Data loss/theft

Cybercriminals target all types of businesses, but particularly vulnerable are those in regulated industries like healthcare. Compromising sensitive data like patients’ personal protected health information (PHI) is severely damaging, and may even be a matter of life and death.

Recently, several websites used by Florida Hospital were infected by unidentified malware, which attempted to expose PHI like patients’ names, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, and insurance carriers. Aside from the fact that it will be extremely difficult to recover lost data due to a malware infection, a healthcare practice will also have to answer to authorities like HIPAA, which prescribes a host of data privacy rules and imposes corresponding fines for non-compliance.

What businesses must do

Given the recent reports of rampant cyberattacks, are things truly dire in terms of security?

Based on a recent malware report, ransomware attacks dropped by 26% in 2018, which seems to be good news. But according to the same report, the drop was partly due to criminals turning to other forms of attack like cryptojacking, which involves hacking into computers to mine cryptocurrency. In other words, hackers are merely exploring other ways to steal data and cause trouble.

This is why SMBs must take steps in greatly reducing their IT network’s risks of being infected by malware.

  • Conduct employee awareness training – Employees who know what malware is and its different types are likely to be more cognizant of things like phishing email and the many ways it can harm them.
  • Update systems and devices regularly – Cybercriminals thrive by exploiting vulnerabilities in outdated operating systems or un-updated devices
  • Strengthen your IT department and consult an MSP – There are plenty of antimalware solutions that you can use, but these and other cybersecurity tools need experts who can monitor your IT infrastructure round the clock.

Ultimately, cybercriminals are going to outsmart security solutions and will look for different ways to steal your data. inrsITe’s cybersecurity experts will help your business in Brandon, Tampa, Plant City, and surrounding areas develop a cybersecurity system that can prevent a variety of malware infections. Talk to our experts today.

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