The internet brings almost limitless possibilities to your business, helping to improve productivity and network with clients and other businesses. But of course, there is a downside: Criminals also want to harness the web for their own personal gain.

Gone are the days when criminal threats were fairly easy to detect online, and also simple to avoid. As virus detection software and security protocol have grown in complexity, so have the hackers’ methods of getting around those safeguards. The result is that we all have to work hard to stay one step ahead of these criminals, in order to protect our business reputations and profit margins.

In particular, there are two major security threats currently circulating, that you should watch out for.

Ransomware. One day you log into your work computers, only to discover that all of your important files are locked. Client information, your spreadsheets, everything that you need in order to operate; it’s all encrypted and you don’t have the key.

You receive a message stating that in exchange for a “ransom”, your important files will be unlocked and returned to you. The message might even include a “countdown” clock. You’re ordered to beat the deadline, and pay the ransom before time runs out, or you will lose your files forever.

Paying the ransom is a bad idea. You could be out thousands of dollars, without any guarantee that you will actually get your files back. This is one of those cases in which prevention is absolutely the only way to go. Back up your files consistently, every day (or even every hour, depending upon the type of business you’re running) and you can “just say no” to these online terrorists.

Phishing. An employee opens a harmless-looking email, clicks on the attached link, and enters a user name and password to access an online account. They think they’re doing the right thing; the email said there was a problem with a business account, and they’re going to fix it right away. The problem is, that link is fake, and was only established to record your user name and password for an important account (such as bank accounts, your cloud service, and so on).

Your employee certainly didn’t mean to give away vital information to hackers, but now they’ve accessed your accounts and the harm is irreversible. Instruct your employees to never click links in emails, even if the message appears legitimate, and to report any messages about “problems” with accounts straight to you. Always open a new tab and check on that account yourself, rather than following the link in the email. Or, you can call the company directly to investigate.

There are many threats lurking on the internet, but ransomware and phishing are two of the biggest ones faced by business owners. Remember to consistently back up important files, and avoid clicking links in emails, and you can prevent two of the most common online attacks.

For more information on backing up files, establishing a secure firewall, and more, give us a call at 888-RING-MY-TECH. We can review your network security protocol and make suggestions for improvements.