The security threats posed to your IT systems


There are many threats posed to your IT and e-commerce systems. This section looks at a few of the more common risks you may encounter, and why they can be so damaging to your business.

Internal users may try to gain unauthorised access to applications and information. In addition, people outside your business may try to examine your systems, or what they contain. Once they have accessed your systems they can compromise your data and applications, either unintentionally or maliciously.

One of the biggest causes of security breaches in the workplace is the mishandling of log-in details or passwords by employees. Typical instances of security breaches occur when passwords are:

  • written down
  • shared with other people
  • not changed frequently enough

Other risks are computer viruses, which are programs that alter the way a computer operates, without the knowledge or consent of the user. There are huge numbers of viruses in existence. Some are extremely malicious, with the ability to delete or damage files and programs. Others are less destructive, but can jam resources, causing systems to crash with a consequent loss of data.

Increasing numbers of frauds and illegal scams are directed at small businesses and individuals. Greater use of the Internet is one reason for this increase. Improved technology has aided the development of new frauds, whilst existing frauds have been adapted to exploit these improved technologies.

There is no scientific way of demonstrating the negative effect on a business’ reputation of an information security incident or inappropriate usage. Remember, businesses are often liable for damage resulting from the misuse of systems by staff, and its reputation is at stake if steps are not taken to prevent inappropriate use.

Similarly, a hacker attack that defaces your e-commerce site may not only result in the immediate loss of revenue, it will also significantly damage your reputation for hosting a secure site. This can have far greater implications for your business in the longer term.