Email and Web Security: Everything you need to know

Viruses, spam and phishing

"IT security isn’t just good practice, it’s good business."

According to MessageLabs’ analysis of over a billion emails a week, one email in every one hundred contains a virus. One in nearly two hundred are fraudulent phishing emails. Seven in every ten contain spam. Put simply, unless you protect yourself properly, email and web access is always going to give you problems.

But what do these terms mean for business? If 70% of email is unwanted spam advertising, it means 70% of your email server’s capacity and 70% of the bandwidth you give to email is wasted. Email seems ‘free’, but you pay for servers and internet connections. Wouldn’t it be better to cut off the flow of spam before it reaches your network? That way you keep the bandwidth and server capacity for your business not the criminal’s.

Phishing emails are more dangerous. They are used to trick people into giving away private information on fake (but highly realistic) websites. A common example is to persuade people that they need to log into the online bank account and sort out a bogus transaction.

Criminals use these sites to get bank account numbers, passwords and credit card information. Another common trick is to get employees to log into a fake company website, so that criminals can get user names and passwords to log into your network. The risks of business fraud are obvious. Some of these fake sites are so realistic even experts can tell them apart from the real thing. Wouldn’t it be better if these emails never reached your employees?

However, the worst threat comes from malware. Call them viruses, worms, trojans, spyware – they all spell bad news. Malware is an unwanted program written by criminals running on a computer in your business, and that’s a never good idea.

What sort of damage could this do? Viruses can give hackers remote access to your data and remote control of your systems. They can also be used to launch criminal attacks on other computers. They can send out thousands of spam email messages. They can infect other computers. Worst of all, they can do all this without any outward sign that something is wrong. Other kinds of viruses display intrusive adverts for pornography and gambling, and even disable security software. If there is a way to make money from your computers, there is a virus that will do it.

Viruses spread in email attachments, when people visit certain websites or simply spreading from computer to computer on the network. The only way to be safe is to be 100% virus-free.

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