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The Hacking Threat to Business: How Serious Is It?

written by: Bruce Tyson•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 2/2/2011

How serious is the hacking threat to business? Here we take a look at some of the key threats businesses experience to present an overview of how hacking threatens businesses of every size.

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    Botnets are one hacking threat to business that can cost a lot of damage, distress, and financial loss. Botnets such as the famousComputer hacking  Zeus botnet of 2010 target ecommerce and online banking activities with the intention of defrauding banks and businesses of millions of dollars.

    Businesses are threatened by botnets first because business networks are often used as platforms for botnet attacks. Botnets have been discovered that include as many as twelve million computers. After a botnet is established by hackers, it can be rented out to other nefarious individuals and used to distribute spam messages, create cyber attacks, or steal financial data, passwords, and other information.

    Of course, another way businesses are threatened by botnets is by becoming a target for a botnet attack. Such attacks can overwhelm corporate Web and email servers with spam and denial of server attacks or scour corporate servers and workstations for sensitive trade or financial information.

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/wwward0

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    Internal Hacking

    Abuse of business networks is one of the most common hacking threats to business, primarily because employees already have access to their company's networked resources and often have a good idea what types of information exist on the network and how to gain access to it. Software key generators, salary information, banking records, personnel files, and other information can be sent out of the company by internal users or with the aid of internal users.

    In addition to the threat of internal hacking, companies also have to be aware that disgruntled employees may deliberately sabotage corporate IT resources.

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    Network Intrusion

    With the advent of wireless networking, the hacking threats businesses face have multiplied. In many scenarios, hackers no longer have to work their way inside a company's network either physically or through the Internet: all they have to do is park their car outside. Wireless network security is often inadequately implemented (if implemented at all) by businesses, paving the way for hackers to join their network.

    Once they are connected to the wireless network, hackers can access company data just as if they were an employee. By intruding into wireless business networks, hackers can also use the company's Internet connection to launch attacks or download files illegally, causing service issues with the company's ISP and legal issues with intellectual property holders.

    Network intrusion can also occur when mobile and company laptops are either stolen or left unattended. In such cases, hackers can assume the network identity of the laptop's owner while accessing and destroying vital company data.

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    How Serious is the Hacking Threat to Business?

    With virtually every aspect of business depending on computer networks and Internet resources, businesses cannot afford to ignore the threats hackers pose to them. If they have not done so already, businesses should evaluate the risks their networks face and then develop plans to manage those risks and secure their resources from threats of hacking.