Hack Day: Spyware: Through the looking glass

Gareth Hemming

Gareth Hemming, director of SME, commercial insurance, outlines what brokers must do to defend themselves and their clients against malicious spyware.

You are working away – busily sending emails, contacting your customers and paying invoices to name but a few things. You take a look at your company’s social media channels.

Then you go for lunch. In the afternoon, you produce a report on the company’s monthly results, it takes a while, but you do a really thorough job. You then share this with your bosses and log off for the day.

Little did you know that everything you did today was being watched.

Intrepid, devious and dangerous hacker Swifty highlighted just how quickly parasitic spyware can be linked to a computer and exactly what it can do. 

The spyware that is on your device has followed your every key stroke – it has told those who installed the spyware all the little details from your day – from who you contacted to whose invoice you paid, and more importantly, your bank account details and even your company’s monthly results.

They now know so much about you and your business.

But would you ever notice that the Spyware was on your device?

Just look at official UK government numbers. They proves that the second most common type of cyber attack in 2017 was related to viruses, spyware and malware, sitting at 33% of all cyber crime.

How do you prevent Spyware from affecting your business?
The first thing that you need to consider is installing anti-virus software – make sure that it is suitable for business and is installed on all machines and devices.

This type of software can help to prevent spyware from reaching your IT infrastructure by quarantining the malicious files.

It’s important to keep the software up to date and perform daily scans. You can also consider disabling the automatic download of images in your email settings – which cyber criminals can use to send a virus.

What can you do you protect your business against spyware?
Staff awareness is an important part of your protection against spyware – make sure that your staff are aware of the risks and don’t choose to follow unknown links, visit strange websites and or download unknown files. You should also restrict administrative rights on your IT infrastructure to stop your staff downloading freeware as sometimes spyware is masquerading as useful software.

If you are hit by spyware, what do you do?
You need to clear your IT infrastructure of the spyware as quickly as possible – either through spyware removal technology or contacting an IT specialist.

Once your system is clean, you need to understand the ramifications of what information could have been stolen – all passwords need to change and if any customer information has been compromised, it’s important to get legal and PR consultancy to minimise the effect of the breach on your company’s reputation.

Many insurers offer cyber cover to protect businesses against spyware attack – including us here at Aviva.

We believe it’s really important to get the right level of cover in place as cyber criminals are smart, but you can put up your best defences against them.

To stay get the latest insight into cyber protection keep up with the Insurance Age Hack Day which is taking place right now.

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