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WWW (the wild wild web)

Oct 28, 2021 | Newsletter, Advice, Resources

In September we mentioned we’d be looking in-depth at some of the technology changes and challenges businesses are going to face in the future.

Since then, Facebook (including other services under the Zuckerberg umbrella, such as WhatsApp and Instagram) disappeared from the internet for five hours or so — a huge amount of time in our instant-access world.

Businesses which rely on advertising traffic saw orders dry-up, others who use the services for customer support or group communication found they were locked out and unable to stay in touch. Many businesses, in other words, realised quite how much they relied on platforms which they had probably gravitated towards without any clear long-term plan.

Elsewhere, Microsoft announced they’ve prevented the largest-ever DDoS attack — a brute force attack on servers and systems to take them offline. One of our suppliers also suffered from a similar attack earlier in the month which affected our phone systems.

What’s going on? Is it going to get worse? Is it going to affect you?

You might think a Facebook problem won’t affect you because you don’t use it, or that it doesn’t matter much if Instagram lose a bit of ad revenue… but it’s not really about these specific platforms.

Any system is vulnerable, and any system which is important to your business makes you vulnerable. So assume that, yes, at some point problems likes these are going to affect you and your business.

Criminals follow the money. It’s, frankly, easier to launch a blackmail / DDoS attack on a company from the relative safety of a foreign country than it is to rob trains in the middle of the night.

Some attacks are entirely preventable: we can help make sure you and your staff keep up-to-date with best-practice. That means learning how to recognise dangerous emails and other communications, to be careful about what you download from the internet or install on your computer.

Other attacks are more difficult, although you can mitigate the risk. Much as you can’t stop a severe snowstorm, flood or transport strike (or global pandemic…) from impacting your business, nor can you prevent your phone or internet provider from suffering a more significant attack. As your own business grows too, you might be more at-risk to being directly targeted.

You can read more about how to protect yourself against the risks of targeted ‘spear phishing’ campaigns on our website alongside more information about business continuity.

Ask yourself (and us), “what happens if…?”

  • …our phone lines go offline for a day
  • …our internet goes down
  • …our remote meeting software (Zoom / Teams etc.) isn’t working and we can’t attend scheduled meetings
  • …we can’t access file sharing systems
  • …we can’t make or receive online payments

How do you react to each situation? Do you have systems in place that let you immediately contact your customers by email or SMS? Is there a way you can divert calls to a mobile device, or accept payments in a different way?

One of the biggest problems with anything in this area is convincing people there’s a risk, and to take steps in advance. Mostly, it’s left until something actually goes wrong, by which point it’s too late. You’re more likely to panic and make mistakes if you’re unprepared, so get in touch to talk to us about the risks your business might face in the coming months and years.

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