Having good online access can work both ways without the right data protection systems in place, warns small business adviser and computer systems expert Chaim (Hyam) Lee. He says cyber crime is on an upswing, and it’s not just government agencies and big corporations that are at risk.

All businesses with an internet connection are at risk. This has been recognised as a very serious topic for all users of internet connected devices, including small businesses in country towns.

Chaim added that the Police Operations commander for fraud and corporate crime in Queensland, Detective Superintendent Brian Hay, had recently addressed a large gathering of local business people at the Toowomba Chamber of Commerce & Industry on the subject of cyber crime.

“This shows the police are taking the threat seriously,” Chaim said. He noted that some systems are more at risk than others. “In my time servicing PCs and networks, I have seen many systems that were installed without the necessary level of protection, and therefore were completely open to the whole world, just waiting to be hacked,” Chaim said.

“Microsoft based computers are usually targeted but other operating systems may still be open to exploitation via non-secure code or non-secure applications installed onto those computer systems,” Chaim explained, adding: “Microsoft never intended for their servers to be installed without firewall protection across the whole system, including every app, every device that is connected and all downloadable software.”

“The device that I currently use is known as a UTM [unified threat management] firewall. It monitors, filters and protects all of my network traffic and informs me of problems and access attempts that have been blocked. I would strongly recommend business owners look at this system.”

“Information as to what is actually going on can be monitored, logged and delivered to technical support personnel by these UTM firewalls. Without getting such devices installed, business owners and managers may have absolutely no idea whatsoever, whether they are being accessed externally (hacked) or not.”

“I have seen a customer’s server being gotten into every night by one particular exploit originating from the USA. All of his valuable business IP (intellectual property), on that server and elsewhere on his network could have been read and copied by the hacker who was behind this exploit.”

Armed with the information generated by his client’s UTM firewall, Chaim was able to identify the country where the hacker was located – China on this occasion – and block all traffic originating from specific addresses by country. Problem solved!

“This solution could also be applied to any other originating country that is believed to be attempting cyber warfare. This type of solution is not available by just using a standard firewall, anti-virus or the ‘safer surfing’ software on your PC,” said Chaim.

“By installing a UTM appliance, I found that the exploit was blocked and reported, and eventually the originator went away, having given up. They will always spend their resources on the systems that are easy to get into.