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How An Ethical Hacker Can Help Secure Your Data

How An Ethical Hacker Can Help Secure Your Data

Paying a tech ninja to slither through your systems could prevent breeches later.  

Real hackers with black hat tricks can ransack small businesses. Raiding barely defended systems. Laying waste with viruses and malware. Plundering treasured files.

Every year nearly a third of Canadian companies leak sensitive info — including customer data — to phishing scams alone. Add in ransomware attacks and backdoor penetrations (systems breeches, sheesh). Results ain’t pretty.

Know who could halt the invading hordes? An Ethical Hacker. Rousting one could keep barbarians from the gateways.

Why You’re Virtually Vulnerable
“Who’d bother with us?” is how you convince yourself (falsely) your tech’s immune. Cybercrime only afflicts bigger players, right?

Problem is the more things go digital, threats mount. Lots of breaches are from automated probes. Smaller firms tend to lack dedicated IT teams. Fewer shields against a whack of new swords. 

Tech pillaging (and internal sabotage) can lead to data theft, system downtime and reputation damage. Might create nasty expenses too. Restoring stolen or altered files, and losing trade secrets, isn’t penny ante. 

What Ethical Hackers Do
The title’s an oxymoron, like virtuous vandal or peace force. Their role’s straightforward though. These cybersecurity stealthers try every which way to break into your systems. 

Networks, computers and other wireless devices: all are tested for protection gaps. Any weak spots get reported for upgrading. Incidence response is also evaluated (did anyone notice and react to the intrusions?). Previous breaches can be analyzed like a modern day whodunit.

The hacker-for-hire can also do risk assessments, and work with each department to clog holes. They can also recommend, and install, tools that defend against assaults. 

How Much They Charge
What’s testing your IT infrastructure and data safeguards worth to you? Ethical Hackers can be rented for gigs or brought on board full-time.

If your life-or-death info’s on servers and the cloud, and constant system integrity’s crucial, hire a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) for around $75K/yr. Overkill or just too damned expensive? Go the contract route. That’ll ding you between $40 - $60 bucks an hour. Might amount to several grand or more per gig.  

Another way is to pay a monthly fee for managed IT services. Instead of getting just a white hat hacker, the entire company’s tech needs could be outsourced. It might run about $35k to $75k annually. Less costly is a break/fix model with techs on-call. Pay a monthly retainer with nominal flat fees per incident. In any event, choose a well-known and trusted provider. Yelp helps!

Don’t Neglect DIY Security Either
Even an army of IT defenders can’t halt low tech incursions. It’s your staff’s fault. They open unverified email links. And upload files from unsecured thumb drives. Tell ‘em to quit it.

Get them to use strong passwords. Opt for two-factor authentication where vulnerable data’s at risk. Spot phishing ruses. Install software updates. Never turn off anti-virus programs. Always back up data in real-time.

These precautions won’t prevent sophisticated haxcess. The app for that is hackers-for-hire.