According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, Australians reported losing a record high of over $340 million to internet security scams throughout 2017 (i). Regrettably, a great deal of small businesses fell victim to these scams (5,432), each losing an average of $11, 000 (ii). Consider also that these figures only include the losses that have been reported – the true economic impact is expected to be far higher.
Recently there has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of two specific scam types targeting small to medium sized businesses – false billing scams and employment/investment scams (iii). False billing scams trick the victim with fake invoices for services like advertising, office supplies, online software and subscription fees, domain name renewals…and the list goes on. While employment and investment internet security scams are more often linked to services like search engine optimisation (SEO), website development, directory listings, loans etc., which seem like good value until the ‘scammer’ fails to deliver their end of the contract. If you’d like to learn more about different types of scams and how to spot them, check out these recent articles:
The sources of these scams do vary, however, the overwhelming majority originates from digital forms – particularly unsolicited emails and insecure websites. What’s perhaps most disappointing is that the majority of the time these threats could have been easily mitigated. So, what should you be doing to prevent malicious scammers from costing you thousands of dollars and damaging your business operations?
An anti-virus program may seem obvious, however, in this digital age your business should really have an all-inclusive program protecting it from all types of digital threats. This includes viruses, Trojans, spyware, worms, ransomware, adware, rootkits, network attacks and web threats. A program which helps to identify internet security scams and proactively fight off malicious malware in a browser/email client before it reaches your computer will provide the best protection.
As well as providing all-inclusive protection, you should also ensure the program is reliable and reputable, easy to use, has small impact on your computer’s performance and is set-up correctly (preferably with the assistance of an IT professional). The set-up of these systems is extremely important within business environments. The system needs to be able to operate to its full capacity without risking it incorrectly labelling important business data/systems as malicious.
When using highly-reputable and trusted software programs such as HiRUM to run your business, they should be excluded from anti-virus scans. Often the security & anti-virus system will include automatic updates to ensure you’re protected from the most recent threats. Unfortunately, these updates may sometimes include system changes that cause them to incorrectly label trusted programs as hostile (e.g. a HiRUM client recently had issues with Bitdefender completely corrupting all their data after an automatic update, luckily they were vigilant with performing daily back-ups and had little down-time). The business data your HiRUM PMS contains is far too valuable to be subject to anti-virus scans, so be sure to get your IT team to exclude the entire HiRUM folder. If you do not have an in-house IT technician and need assistance, the HiRUM team would be happy to step in, simply email email@example.com or call 07 5574 4990. (IT services charged separately from support)
In the unfortunate event that your business does fall victim to a malicious attack of some kind, the one guarantee you have to minimise the damage and disruption it could potentially inflict, is your data back-up. We cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to back-up your HiRUM data on a daily basis. To ensure the safety of this back-up, it is equally important that it is saved to an external drive that is then stored safely and securely in a separate location.
Too many times we have seen clients lose days, weeks or even months’ worth of data because they’ve failed to follow this simple procedure. After a week of performing these back-ups daily, the process will seem so simple and easy, and you’ll have peace of mind that you’re operationally protected against any threats that may come your way – whether it be a malicious cyber-attack or a natural disaster!
For a full explanation of best practices relating to back-up procedures and best front office procedures, check out the below article:
If your business is operationally capable of supporting cloud technology (e.g. reliable and strong internet connectivity), you may be able to outsource some required IT infrastructure. HiRUM is proud to offer cloud hosting services to assist clients with their IT requirements where possible. By hosting your HiRUM PMS externally, you can rest assured it will always be protected and backed-up regularly. If you’d like to enquire about these services, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07 5574 4990.
It’s far easier to identify and avoid internet security scams and other digital threats when you know exactly what it is you should be looking out for. For this reason, we highly recommend keeping up to date with the latest news and updates in this space. HiRUM provides comprehensive monthly scam alerts to all of our subscribers (curtesy of Surety IT). Click here to subscribe and stay alert to identify the latest threats that may manage to weasel their way into your inbox!
And finally, you should always remember that if something looks suspicious or sounds too good to be true, it probably is!