There is a saying in the business world that there are only two kinds of businesses; there are businesses that have been hacked and businesses that don’t realise they’ve been hacked. That is how ubiquitous malicious actors are on the Internet. Whenever a business achieves success, there is someone who wants to take it. If you run a business, you are constantly at risk for these bad actors. They are people who will try anything to gain access to your business and steal your money.
When people think of hackers, they think of people in horn-rimmed glasses in dark rooms lit only by computer glow. The truth is that hacking is much more mundane than television would lead us to believe. Cinema has glamorised the practice; it is true that certain types of hacking involve long strings of code and strong arm tactics to blast through a firewall. That’s not the most common way, though; the most common method is to get you to invite them in.
So often, that looks like mundane emails. If a hacker can send you an email into which you freely enter your business information, he or she will not have to do much work at all. That’s why it is the most common and one of the most successful methods. Surely by now you are thinking that you would never be so foolish as to give your information away. No one who gives business information away realises that is what’s happening.
How Spam Works
Spam, named for the ubiquitous canned meat, is a type of unwanted and unsolicited email. Typically, these are written in such a way as to seem specific, but to actually be a very general email that goes out to hundreds or even thousands of email addresses at once. You can usually spot spam pretty quickly. It is easiest to spot when you assume that anything too good to be true actually is. If you get an email offering to give your company millions of pounds in exchange for your bank account, that’s obviously spam. If you get an email that wants you to input a bunch of information in exchange for instantly being at the top of search engines, you are probably being spammed. Those are the easy ones.
In fact, based on the servers and where they come from, most email services will block that spam instantly. You probably will not even see it. Where you run into problems is the more sophisticated spammers. They know how to game the system and slip undetected into your emails. These professional criminals are the dangerous ones, and they are the reason to invest in a robust anti-spam program.
These programs use your information and the information from their own servers and research to identify spam. Typically, your email filters will be based on known malicious accounts. The more robust software will also investigate the sender and ID its true DNS.
Phishing scams are one of the most dangerous scams you can be subjected to. Phishing scams entail a malevolent actor sending you an email designed to trick you into entering your information. These emails are usually designed to look like an email from your bank. Some of the more skilful criminals will very faithfully mimic your bank’s websites or emails. Also, depending on the jurisdiction of the servers, some can even mimic your bank’s URL. There is almost always a difference between your bank’s actual URL and the one from the criminals, but at a glance, it can be difficult to tell the difference.
Most of these are unsuccessful as well. Most banks and financial institutions tell you never to enter your information into an email. They will never ask for your information through email. However, they are successful by the sheer volume of emails. If these criminals send 1000 spam emails to 1000 different companies every day, and 99.99% of them are unsuccessful, they are successful several times per week.
How are they successful? They are typically successful when a company has spam filters on their emails. They rely too heavily on the built-in spam filter, so they come to trust every email that gets through. The more employees you have, the more likely you are to get hacked in this manner. That’s especially true if you have temporary employees who are not as familiar with your business’s contacts.
The best way to avoid this is to employ a very robust spam filter on your emails. A third-party spam filter might cost a little bit of money, but it will save you so much money that you could have lost to a criminal.
Many spammers are using a new technique that is successfully evading many email spam filters. They are saving text in their spam as gifs. Since the text typically appears when you open the email, it might be able to fool the optical text readers. It won’t fool a good spam filter, though.
The True Danger
Every person who owns a business or operates one is in danger of being hacked. Spammers are surprisingly well organised in certain areas. Many people think of spam as an annoyance, but it’s actually quite malicious and should be treated much like other crimes. In some places, there are actually very organised spam gangs that operate in affiliation with organised crime syndicates. These spam gangs fight with each other for territory and supremacy in various areas. They are well-funded and well-regulated groups of criminals.
With that in mind, spam does not feel like an annoyance anymore. Knowing that they are organised and malevolent makes spam seem more like the problem it is. You wouldn’t choose to face an organised crime ring alone in any other context. With a great software regimen and a provider hosting, you can keep spam out of your business. Choosing to not protect yourself from criminals is not a smart business decision, and it’s not one that will save you money in the long run. In fact, you will likely end up losing money when someone sneaks in and damages your business or harms your interests.