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Search Engine Risks

Your company, like most, depends on the capabilities of your computer systems to function. You should be aware that simple actions your employees take could be putting your company’s equipment and networks at risk of cyber crime, including cyber attacks, cyber theft and other computer security incidents. The average cost of a single cyber attack is incalculable—cyber attacks can directly target finances and ruin a business’ reputation. Your business is at stake, and you should do everything you can to protect yourself.

Why Employees’ Web Searches Could Affect You
As an employer, you should educate your employees about searching for certain topics on the Internet due to the risk of coming across websites encrypted with viruses or malware that could be detrimental to your computer systems. Stress that the potential for cybercrime could affect employees individually as well as the business as a whole. More than 90 percent of companies surveyed by the DOJ incurred either monetary loss, system downtime loss or both because of cybercrime, so take it upon yourself to put search engine guidelines in place.

The Web's Most Dangerous Search Terms
Common term searches conducted online one can expose your business to the risk of cyber crime. Encourage employees to avoid following suspicious results in search engines. Any result that promises free products or materials is suspect. The least risky search terms are usually health-related topics and searches about economic news.

It is essential to remember that the number of dangerous search terms is ever changing. Hackers want to impact the highest amount of people with the least amount of effort, so they aim for popular search terms most. Ill-intentioned hackers also adapt quickly to the fast-paced nature of the Internet and the public circle, so oftentimes social or celebrity events popular at a given moment climb quickly to the top of the Internet’s most dangerous search terms and are a high risk for infecting your company’s computers.

According to the DOJ, industries considered a part of critical infrastructure businesses account for a disproportionate amount of computer security incidents. If your company is in any of these industries, be especially careful about Internet searches to ensure computer safety and protect against potentially devastating loss, both monetary and in down time:

  • Agriculture
  • Chemical and drug manufacturing
  • Computer system design
  • Finance
  • Internet service providers
  • Petroleum mining and manufacturing
  • Publications/broadcasting
  • Real estate
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation and pipelines
  • Utilities

Take Precautions to Protect Your Business
There are examples of companies and organizations around the globe that had to shut down operations to address a large-scale virus or other malware issue. These problems can affect both large and small businesses and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix. Avoid putting yourself at risk by doing the following:

  1. Enact a stricter Internet use policy
  2. Put more strict website blockers or filters in place
  3. Educate employees about the hazards that risky search engine exploration can present

Some of these solutions may cost you in the short run, but lowering your risk will ultimately save your company in potential identity fraud, monetary cyber theft or informational cyber theft in the future. Speak with a Marshall & Sterling Insurance agent about your cyber concerns today. 

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