Imagine working on your computer at work, when an email from an unfamiliar address hits your mailbox. You open attached file to find an invoice of some sort. It seems to have been sent in error; you recognize none of the names or addresses on the file. Shrugging the email off your mind, you continue working.
A half-hour later, you open some work-related documents from a cloud-based storage system, but there seems to be an issue. A pop-up prevents you from accessing the file. It is demanding payment. That innocuous email contained malware, and now every work-related file has been infected with it.
This sounds like a nightmare, but it happens all the time. As businesses become increasingly reliant on cloud-based programs, cloud security has become paramount.
New Problems for Cloud Security
Recently, a strain of ransomware called Virlock has been using cloud-based storage and collaboration applications to spread, according to ZDNet.
Virlock can infect files, encrypting them and turning them into new infector files. The encrypted files cannot be opened. Upon attempting to open an infected file, users will instead find an intimidating letter appearing to be penned by the FBI:
Image Source: Netskape
The letter demands that a payment be made (in Bitcoin, of course) in order to access the file. The FBI did not write this message, and no user should make any payment to these hackers.
Business is on the Cloud
The fact that malware like this can bring business production to a halt should be alarming to any entrepreneur. Most companies maintain a competitive edge by using cloud-based technology.
In Office Spaces, one of several shows by BrandStar, remodeling expert Kalyn Rothaus states that “in today’s business environment, how well you communicate with people inside and outside an organization is very important.” In order to stay competitive, companies must be willing to adopt new strategies for communicating with employees. Rothhaus continues on to say that “the tools that are used to communicate sometimes determine how successful a company will be.”
Traditionally, entrepreneurs have relied on maintaining organization by keeping employees in at a central hub. The modern workplace, however, has seen a rapid shift towards decentralization. This emerging model has presented a challenge to business owners: How do you maintain order and productivity when leaders and workers are spread out?
Recent trends have spurred businesses into embracing new methods of communication. Nearly all new collaboration tools are cloud-based. This is a double-edged sword. While cloud-based collaboration is convenient, it opens new avenues for malicious software and hackers.
How to Keep Business Running Smoothly
By its nature, cloud-based programs and data are inherently not secure. However, there are some measures to take that can improve security. The first step in bolstering online security in any form is education; business owners must teach employees when it is appropriate to open an email, how to keep personal information safe, and to never use open Wi-Fi. Such preventative measures will help to avoid viruses and malware in any setting.
For improving network security, cloud-based antivirus solutions have been on the market for years. This type antivirus requires users to install a small native app on your computer. The database and heuristics data are hosted on the cloud, and the program uses this data to secure the computer. There are pros and cons to using it, but the advantages heavily outweigh the disadvantages. Like any cloud-based program, there is no installation required, nor is any updating necessary. Unfortunately, most cloud antivirus requires a persistent internet connection to be of use.
If mobile devices are used for work, there are ways to conduct business securely. Read about virtual private networks here.
Hackers will continue to use any means to access sensitive data and systems. As businesses use the cloud to maintain a competitive edge in communication, they will need to be cautious. Failing to keep up with the latest security measures can lead to a halt in production and data breaches. Wise entrepreneurs will see to continually evolve their network security to match the rapid development of malware and viruses.
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