For Software Developers: Start 2013 Strong By Protecting Digital Data from Cyber Threats

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A surf shop in California loses 10 years of customer data because their computer systems weren’t secured. This data was encrypted with ransomware, a form of malware that allows the cybercriminal to hold it for ransom. The surf shop owner turned to McAfee’s Gary Davis, the vice president, global consumer marketing, for advice: Should they pay the ransom? Unfortunately, it was too late for Davis’s advice—the ransomware also left malware in other areas of their computer system, leaving everything beyond repair.

Like the surf shop owner, ISVs and application developers need to protect their computer systems, software and hardware. We asked Gary to share his advice on steps small business owners and ISVs can take to prevent devastating losses like those the surf shop experienced.

Simple Steps to Stay Secure

“Don’t do dumb things online,” is Davis’s first bit of advice. It may sound simple, but there’s something very tempting about clicking on that link that may be a bit too good to be true. Don’t click it. Davis suggests going to the website and looking around for the offer. And if it seems too good to be true, it likely is.

“Security software will save you time and money,” said Davis. Many ISVs and small business owners are pressed for time and have limited resources, but don’t let this be an excuse for letting your digital security lapse. As long as subscriptions to your security software are up to date, the security system will take care of threats in the background. The cost of security software is negligible compared with the cost of an attack.

“Give your customers piece of mind by creating a secure website.” Consumers are wary about putting their financial information into a website. Make your potential customers more comfortable about paying for your software on your site with a trustmark. According to Harris Research, the McAfee SECURE* trustmark has shown to increase confidence in 87% of shoppers.

Hardware That Protects You

Protecting your digital information is necessary to prevent costly and possibly devastating losses to small business owners. But what about the hardware?

“The anti-theft and identity protection features on all Ultrabooks™ heighten security for users,” said Davis.

Intel® Anti-Theft Technology locks down your information and your computer in the event of suspicious activity. When you retrieve your Ultrabook, data is easily reactivated. Intel® Identity Protection Technology adds a layer of security to your online transactions. It links your Ultrabook to your online banking accounts and social media sites. When you access a secure website, Intel IPT validates that it’s you and that you’re logged in from a trusted computer.

Threat Predictions for 2013

Intel and McAfee have their eye on the threats that are coming at us in 2013. “We’re working to deliver security solutions that protect what users do on their devices and on the Internet,” said Davis. This is significant as security companies have historically focused on just protecting devices from malware. They also have ransomware in their sights. “This bit of malware is especially destructive to small business owners. Not only is it costly to get your data back, but it can also infect other areas of your system. Regular scans and an up-to-date security system will help protect ISV and small businesses from these attacks.”

HTML5’s universal appeal has been not only a boon for developers, but also for hackers. “In 2013, we’ll see a lot more Javascript-based malware from cybercriminals that attack HTML5. We want to keep people who access websites that use HTML5.”

Globally, McAfee sees hacktivisim decreasing while there will be a corresponding increase in nation-states that are working on cyber weaponry that targets infrastructure. “It doesn’t sound like much of a concern for small businesses, but imagine if your local utilities were hacked and shut down. That would impact a local business greatly.”

Bottom Line

Small businesses and ISVs take great pains to protect their goods, locking doors and installing alarm systems, but digital security can often get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list due to cost and time constraints. As our businesses become more dependent on technology, protecting this data should be just as important as a motion-sensitive alarm. Move digital security to the top of your list of priorities to prevent future losses. 

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