Are Small Businesses in a Safe Net?
In this digital world, hackers and other attackers using malwares, for instance can really pose the threat to any business. And of course, small business is not the exception. Contrary to common beliefs of a number of small businessmen, it is the nature of small business that makes them most vulnerable to these types of attacks.
While this was indeed the case a few years ago, these days, small businesses are getting attacked far more regularly than before. As larger enterprises have become better at protecting their networks and systems, hackers and other malicious intruders have begun going after smaller, less-protected businesses, in growing numbers.
The trend is heightening the need for small businesses to bolster their network security and invest in relatively inexpensive software, kind of as you would insurance.
For smaller enterprises, this involves little more than sticking a robust network firewall at the enterprise gateway, and implementing reliable anti-virus and anti-spyware tools on desktop and other client systems.
Firewall products are designed to protect enterprise networks from malicious traffic. They typically sit at the connection point between a company network and a wide-area network or the Internet, and inspect all network traffic entering and leaving the network.
Firewall devices can be configured to permit only an approved set of users to access the company network. They can also be configured to inspect all data packets passing through the network to ensure that malicious traffic does not get in.
Many firewalls can also be configured to act as proxy servers. These are servers that intercept and then forward all traffic entering and leaving a corporate network. Proxy servers are used typically to hide a corporate network from the outside world. Many current-generation firewalls also can also be tuned to serve as Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) which are capable of generating alerts when an unauthorized user breaks into a network.
Antivirus (AV), anti-spyware and other similar products, meanwhile, are indispensible tools for protecting end-user systems against malicious software programs such as Trojan horses, worms, viruses, spyware programs, rootkits and backdoors. These malicious programs can result in data corruption and data theft, and often they also allow a compromised system to be remotely controlled by a malicious attacker without the user’s knowledge.
Anti-virus tools and other anti-malware products are designed to prevent such email- and network-borne programs from infecting a system. They are typically installed on desktop systems, laptop computers and other client devices. Most modern anti-virus tools are signature-based products.
Signature-based anti-malware products work by inspecting systems for known malicious code (viruses and the like). While these tools are very good for detecting and blocking a vast number of the known malware threats out there, they are ineffective against Zero-Day threats. Zero-Day threats involve previously unknown malicious software for which no defences have been written yet.
Fortunately, several vendors of antivirus products have now begun to offer behaviour-based detection tools that work by inspecting systems for suspicious behaviour, rather than suspicious software. When a behaviour-based antivirus product detects anomalous behaviour, it either quarantines the activity or completely disables it.
Implementing such technologies can help a small business improve its security posture and also cut IT costs. That’s because, often the cost of dealing with a malware attack can be high. Restoring systems that have been sabotaged by a Trojan horse program, or other malware, and the costs of recovering lost data, can be substantially higher than the cost of deploying tools to prevent such infections in the first place.
Until fairly recently, such security technologies used to be fairly expensive to implement. Fortunately for small businesses, that is no longer the case. Firewall and antivirus technologies are so widely available these days that they have become almost commodity products. The big name operating system vendors often bundle many of the security functions offered by antivirus tool into their products as do many Internet Service Providers so you do have a range of options that are not only effective but affordable.