In 2015, 43% of cyber attacks targeted small business owners. This is a dramatic increase since 2011 when that number was 18%. These attacks usually come in the form of phishing campaigns and targeted employees who were largely responsible for the finances of a small business.

Incognito emails are typically sent to these employees and when they are opened the phisher can hijack the entire company’s financial information and gain access to their funds or personal information.

Another major concern to small businesses is ransomware attacks. A ransomware attack is malware for data kidnapping, an attempt to exploit in which the attacker encrypts the business’s data and demand payment for the decryption key.

Not only can the attacker gain access to the business’s computer but they can also gain access and attack the company’s other devices such as smartphones, smart televisions, tablets, and even smartwatches.

Phishing schemes have increased by 55% from 2014 to 2015, meaning that the hackers are getting more and more sophisticated with their approach. Most of these attacks are so discrete that the business owner and their employees do not know that they’ve been targeted until they see the state of their finances.

So what does this mean for the small business owner and their small business servers? It means that they need to be better prepared. It means that they need more sophisticated defense techniques. And since these attacks are getting more and more frequent, it’s important that the businesses also invest in proper security programs and anti-malware tools to thwart the attackers.

In this article, we will discuss what type of security is essential for this year and pull apart the products in order to breakdown if they are right for your business. Keep in mind that this type of security and subsequent peace of mind is not free and sometimes not cheap; however, the fee associated with this type of security could save a small business more money than it costs.

Note that in 2015 the FBI recorded $2.3 billion lost in cyber attacks; of course, this was over many large businesses as well but hackers and schemers do not discriminate and will attack small businesses too. In fact, small businesses are typically under-protected so they are the preference.

Before we get into programs and anti-malware tools, there are some minor things a company can do to avoid being the victim of a cyber attack, even on the best high-speed Internet. First of all, training employees to avoid any suspicious emails (especially if they have an attachment) or clicking on unknown websites. Another option is utilizing the training program through cyber essentials which is an online guide to protecting yourself from these attacks.

Cyber Attacks

Here is an interesting analysis of our 2017 situation. The numbers on this chart will be different every day; however, the fact that they are only going up is quite alarming.

 Internet Security Analysis of 2017

We’ve discussed training staff members to avoid opening emails and clicking on suspicious sites, the next step would be a proper anti-virus. A good anti-virus program often referred to as anti-malware software, is a computer program used to prevent, detect, and remove malicious software.

There are plenty of free anti-virus software programs available on the market such as Avast Free Antivirus, AVG Antivirus Free, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition, Cybereason Ransomfree, and Sophos Home Review.

These programs offer reasonable protection and little to no cost which seem appealing; however, they are not recommended for businesses. With personal computers, you are mostly in control of what sites and emails you are opening and clicking on. With business computers there is a lot more risk due to the number of individuals using the computer, they’re tech savvy, and awareness. When investing in an anti-virus or anti-malware program, the business owner should look for a fee-based program that can cover all aspects of Internet security rather than just specific areas.

Here are our top 5 anti-virus software recommendations:

1. Avast Endpoint Protection Advanced

Avast Endpoint Protection Advanced

  • Reasonably priced
  • Easy-to-use
  • Offers remote management
  • Not many features
  • Only protects computer

2. Symantec Endpoint Protection

Symantec Endpoint Protection

  • Can be used on multiple devices
  • Event-driven backups for easy data restore
  • No mobile device protection
  • Expensive

3. Bitdefender GravityZone

Bitdefender GravityZone

  • Customizable
  • Good pop-up and context-sensitive help
  • Overly complex
  • No mobile device support

4. McAfee Anti-Virus Plus

McAfee Anti-Virus Plus

  • Good scores with malware blocking
  • Updated user-friendly interface
  • Poor anti-phishing score
  • Not full service

5. Norton Symantec Anti-Virus

Norton Symantec Anti-Virus

  • Good anti-virus scores
  • Self-sufficient firewall

The final step to protecting you and your business is investing in a good IT team or person. Though setting up these programs are relatively easy it is always a good idea to have someone trained in the area of technology. A proper IT team or representative can ensure all aspects of your business are protected.

A final area to consider is VPN services. A VPN service is for situations where employees need to connect to your system when outside of the office. A VPN service creates an encrypted connection. When using a VPN service, the employee would connect to the Internet via a VPN server.

The server is operated by a provider and the connection between your device (as the service can work on numerous devices and not just computers) and the VPN server in encrypted.

This broken down essentially creates a secure connection between the employee’s computer and the business network to ensure that hackers and phishers cannot exploit the weaker connection created from geographical location distance. There is also WIFI VPN protection which also creates an encryption on the WIFI service as well. This way the whole Wi-Fi system does not get hacked creating further problems.

Taking into consideration anti-virus software, security essentials, proper training programs, an IT team or person, VPN encryption, and VPN Wi-Fi security will aid greatly in protecting your company, it’s employee’s and the company’s assets.

Investing in protection is the single most important thing you can do for a company considering the increase in Internet threats. Ensuring that a proper system is in place for your company will ensure that your company not only is protected but also is set up for success.

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