eff Multz, Dell SecureWorks
By the time some companies find out that their computer and data systems are not as secure as they should be, it's already too late. That was the warning delivered to PROFIT 200 leaders by Jeff Multz, the director of North American midmarket sales for Dell SecureWorks.
To illustrate his point, the one-time entrepreneur began his presentation on cyber security by describing "wardriving." Armed with only a laptop computer, computer hackers drive around neighbourhoods and industrial parks in search of Wi-Fi hotspots. When one is found, it doesn't take long for a sophisticated hacker to disable the firewall and tap into a personal or company computer system. Once inside, says Multz, stealing sensitive information is about the most innocuous thing the hacker can do.
Viruses and malware pose another threat to your company's computer. For example, says Multz, criminals use email messages and Web links to gain access to computer systems and install malware "bots." These pieces of unfriendly code can be used to steal specific information or to turn an entire network of computers into a "botnet" that spreads the infection to other computers. Multz also reveals that bots, malware and computer viruses are readily available for purchase on the Web.
What can your company do to protect its computer system? Multz offers several tips, including these:
- Keep your computer operating systems up to date. New versions of your OS will include patches that can guard against the latest malware.
- Maintain current anti-virus software on your computers. Computer viruses are changing all the time, and your anti-virus software has to keep up.
- Mobile devices, such as laptops and smartphones, are especially vulnerable to both thieves and hackers. Try not to store sensitive information on these devices.
- Make sure any computer software or hardware you bring into your network comes from a trusted supplier before you install it.
- Train your staff not to open suspicious emails or click on links on dubious websites. That is the easiest way to expose your system to malware.
Fortunately, effective cyber security doesn't require perfection—just a more effective approach than other companies. "The bad guys will always go after the low hanging fruit," says Multz. "Don't be the low-hanging fruit."
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