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We have all seen examples of spam, clickbait, scams, hoaxes and malware, but how do they affect your small business? Some of these are obvious money wasters, but what should you and your staff know about all of these Internet annoyances. Actually, annoyances is a very soft word to describe the costs to your business. Since the beginnings of the world wide web and access to the Internet came to the masses, spam or unsolicited emails started filling up people’s inboxes. The more prevalent that spam became, the more people and businesses looked for ways of blocking it. The early methods worked – but then spammers became more advanced and it became harder to block. This caused people to have to spend more time (and therefore money) sifting through these emails or spending even more money on more sophisticated email spam filters. It is now common for businesses to budget resources and money for these solutions.

Clickbait is a form of spam that you find on social media and websites. It is normally a link that promises a great deal or a sad story that you should support by liking or sharing. But the problem is that there is no special offer, or the cause that you wanted to support is not on the site. It was just a way to get you to a website and see their other ads. Clickbait is also used on video sites like YouTube to get you to visit a video that the thumbnail falsely represents. The poster of the video generates ad revenue from you watching the ads and the videos. So how could this cost your business money? Clickbait is a huge time waster and could potentially lead you to a website that could infect your computer or network with spyware or ransomware.

The advance-fee scam is a type of fraud and one of the most common types of “confidence” tricks. Typically, the scam involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money in return for a small up-front payment which the fraudster requires in order to obtain the large sum. A new form of this scam that is aimed at businesses, is to offer a business a large order, but require a tender fee. The scammer convinces the business that they are legitimate and that, according to local laws or industry rules, all purchases require a tender. The scammer insists that the tender fee will be refunded once the process is over.

Long before the Internet, hoaxes were mainly seen in wide distribution on the covers of supermarket tabloids. While hoaxes seem harmless, they are not when someone starts a hoax about your business, product or service. These hoaxes are not as harmless as you might think. There can cost you customers and damage your reputation. It is important to monitor your company reputation and quickly deal with customer complaints or hoaxes about your business and its products and services.

One of the biggest threats to your business is malware and ransomware. These computer infections are not detected using most anti-virus programs. Malware infections are simply that – malicious software intended to inconvenience you or force you to purchase special software to remove them. Ransomware is even more malicious. These types of programs do not just infect computers and servers, they hold your data for ransom until you pay a specified dollar amount. Even if your business does not get attacked by ransomware, it still costs you money to protect yourself from such vicious attacks.

As a member of an office space for rent community at an office business centre, there is interaction with other small business owners in the common areas on a daily basis. These areas are where you often learn about the latest scams, hoaxes and cyber attacks. At Telsec, we also have several tech-based companies that occupy offices as well as team space. So we often hear about the threats and new security issues long before they are reported in the media. That’s just one of the many benefits of being a member of a professional community in an office business centre like Telsec.