We’ve all heard about the dangers of technology scams. There are countless cautionary tales about clicking on enticing, yet suspicious links for a chance to win a Caribbean cruise. But do we hear similar precautions for businesses? For Des Moines companies of all sizes, cybercrime making its way into the workplace is a real concern, even for those with an onsite information technology staff. 

Generally cybercrime is considered to have two main segments, piracy and malware. Pirated software is the illegal duplication, creation and sale of unlicensed digital media. Malware, on the other hand, is any software designed specifically to cause damage to a user’s computer, server or network. The two often work hand in hand and can be equally devastating to businesses, impacting labor costs, time and productivity.

A recent International Data Corporation (IDC) study reports that U.S. businesses will spend a staggering $22 billion dealing with security issues as a result of malware associated with pirated software. Also worrisome: nearly one in four chief information officers/IT managers don’t have a regular process to install security updates to protect against attacks. Almost a quarter (23 percent) of the same group  buy their PCs from illegitimate sources, not reputable vendors and national stores. 

As the findings from this survey illustrate, we live in a time where businesses are up against tech-savvy cybercriminals from around the world. With that said, there are measures you can implement within your organization to protect against data breaches. Below are some best practices for businesses, large and small, to stay safe from cyberattacks:

• Adopt a defined security policy for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): While the BYOD trend offers numerous benefits and allows enterprise workers to work with their preferred technology, it also blurs the lines between enterprise and personal computing, potentially putting your company at risk. Executing a defined policy for those using their own devices at work aligns employees and employers on governance, risks and compliance management.

• Use anti-virus software and security scans: As the IDC study found, nearly a quarter of businesses are not up to date with their anti-virus software or do not have a regular security process. Routinely updating your anti-virus software, and running regular scans, are businesses’ first line of defense against cybercrimes. 

• Shop smart and purchase technology from reputable sources: Making informed decisions while purchasing software and devices for your business is one of the most important aspects of keeping your digital property safe. Most know to avoid street-corner vendors when purchasing software for their business, yet they may not think twice about ordering software from an unfamiliar but professional looking website that offers steep discounts.

• Install directly from publishers: All current software updates and patches should be installed directly from the publisher. Similar to purchasing devices and software from known sources, you also want to ensure you’re taking the same precautions with updates. 

Being proactive and educating yourself on the dangers of cybercrime will save your business time, money and frustrations down the road. For more on how to protect your business from pirated software and malware attacks, please visit Microsoft.com/piracy.