LONDON – TECH – Starting a small business takes thousands of dollars, and that’s just to get it off the ground. Because of the large amount of money it can take to get the business going, you might be tempted to dress your office with rented electronic equipment and pirated software. While this will initially help you to save money, it can cost you your business later down the line.
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How are cybercriminals infiltrating small business networks? By using a virtual Trojan horse.
The story of the Trojan Horse is likely one of the first stories you heard in school. The ancient city-state Troy, located off the coast of Turkey was embroiled in war. With walls said to be over 20 feet high, Troy was seemingly impenetrable. That is, until their Greek enemies came up with an idea: pretend to give a peace offering and admit defeat. The Greeks constructed a giant hollow wooden horse and hid a number of their soldiers inside. After proclaiming their defeat, the remaining soldiers left. Believing that their enemies had surrendered, the Trojans wheeled in the peace offering. Suddenly, the Greek soldiers hidden in the horse spilled out and began attacking the stunned Trojan soldiers. The drawbridge was raised, and the Greek soldiers that had been believed to have moved on came out of hiding. The Greeks won and the Trojans lost.
Like the Trojan horse of ancient lore, the virtual Trojan Horse looks and acts like a program that you can trust. When you’re desperate for new software but can’t afford it, downloading a pirated version seems like the next best thing, so that’s what you do. Though the pirated version was free, there’s a big difference between the two: the software that costs money comes with regular software and security updates, the pirated software does not.
Downloading pirated software isn’t only illegal, you’re provided with no customer support and it could come with an ugly virus hidden in its code. According to the Business Software Alliance, 41 percent of all software downloaded online is illegal. Illegal software is not monitored; this means it does not have to subscribe to set mandates that help keep your cybersecurity strong.
After the illegal (and infected) software is installed, the cybercriminal responsible for the software can sweep your network for classified information and encrypt your data, rendering your data (at least for you) obsolete. Until you pay a ransom, the cybercriminal will keep your data with the intent to sell, destroy or distribute.
How would your customers respond if it was learned that you used pirated software for bookkeeping, including payments and payroll? You would more than likely get sued by one of your clients.
To protect yourself, you need to do two things:
-Use only vetted and legal software.
-Invest in cyber risk insurance.
No one is perfect online. Sometimes web users mistakenly click infected links and download ransomware, it happens. This is why cyber insurance is a tool that small business owners should arm their business with: should an accidental download happen or an employee connect to the company server with an infected device, your business will be covered. How? Cyber insurance covers the cost of cyberattack damages and will even pay for your company’s court fees should an affected party decide to take you to court for negligence.
No matter what anyone says, you can’t cut corners in business, especially with money. Do your business right and work only with vetted software programs on new equipment — you won’t regret it.