Massive hacking attacks make global headlines. These incidents typically affect governments and major corporations. Large organizations provide a bigger challenge, a larger payoff and, for some hackers, raises their notoriety in this underworld network.
Yet, small business computers need extra protection too. Persons with unauthorized access can steal your confidential information, compromise your email accounts, siphon money or enroll your computers in a botnet for use in future large scale attacks.
The following are four signs that should catch your and your employee’s attention.
1. Fake Antivirus Popups
Deceptive antivirus notifications that either detect the discovery of a virus or urge you to download a new antivirus, may be a sign of a compromised system. Often, the goal is to scare you to click Yes which should set off a series of processes that grant the attacker greater control of your computer to facilitate further exploitation.
Nevertheless, even if you choose to ignore the message and close the popup window, save any work you were doing and power down the computer. Boot up in Safe Mode and restore the system to the last known good backup. Boot up the computer once again but in regular mode then run a complete antivirus scan.
2. Emails Purportedly Sent by You
When your family, friends, work colleagues or business associates receive emails you’re sure you didn’t send, should be a red flag. Many times, the fake emails use a technique known as email spoofing. They do not have access to your email account but instead create an email header that makes the message appear to be from you.
In rarer instances, the person sending the email may actually have gained access to your account. They may have done this as part of a wider social engineering scheme (e.g. claiming to be from technical support and asking for your email id and password to help investigate a problem).
If you encounter this, change your password immediately. Also, let the people on your email contact list know they should ignore any suspicious emails they may have received from you in recent days or weeks.
3. Ransom Message
If you discover that access to one or more of your computers has been blocked by an unknown person, you may have fallen victim to a ransomware attack. Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts your computer’s data and requests you to send money via bitcoin for access to be restored. Perhaps the best known ransomware has been WannaCry which was thrust into the limelight after infecting thousands of machines around the world.
Ransomware is a fairly new phenomenon. As long as you have a good recent backup of your data, restoring is all that’s required to get you out of this trap. If you do not have a backup and the blocked data is critical for your business, you may have to do the unthinkable and consider paying the ransom. Whereas it could be a scam, majority of people who paid the ransom have ended up getting their access back.
4. Redirected Internet Browsing
Some hackers make their money by sending you to a different website from the one you are searching for. Once there, they’ll either ask for your credit card details under false pretenses so they can execute fraud or they’ll get paid for each click on the website you go to.
These unwanted redirects are usually achieved by Trojans and worms that have infected your browser applications. A complete antivirus scan should rid your computer of this problem.
When your computers or websites are compromised, this not only endangers staff and customer data but also raises the prospect of fraud. Many hacks are incremental and take place over the course of weeks and months. Ergo, the faster you can see the early signs, the quicker you can take appropriate countermeasures to stop the attack before it gets out of hand.
Note that hacking attacks can affect servers, desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. The best remedy for a compromised device is either a factory reset or a complete restoration of the system to the last known good state. This should be your recourse if all else fails.
About the Author: Stephen is an influencer marketing pro with brownboxbranding.com who is passionate about building authentic relationships and helping businesses connect with their ideal online audience. He keeps his finger on the pulse of the ever-evolving digital marketing world by writing on the latest marketing advancements and focuses on developing customized blogger outreach plans based on industry and competition.