Malware is costing us money. Whether you’re a simple independent trader, or a multinational company, malware is a serious and very costly threat. Nobody has got time and money to burn when you’re up against the profit margin and trying to stay ahead of your competition. It’s time to fight the good fight, and stop the monster of malware from destroying your businesses future and success. Unfortunately, there are many forms this adversary takes, and many battle plans that it employs to try to catch you off guard. Here we’ll show you some ways you can get protected, and stay safe; fight back!
Know Your Enemy
Ancient Chinese General, Sun Tzu, Author of the ‘Art of War’, once wrote that ‘It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles…’ It’s time to know your enemy. Here are the types of threat, and what they do.
First of all, we’ll talk phishing. It isn’t a poor misspelling of ‘fishing’, but is actually a type of ‘scam’ that would seek to lure unsuspecting victims to enter their personal or financial information. They might trick you into thinking that they are a legitimate shopping or banking website, for example, then use your details to make purchases or fraudulent transactions.
Secondly, we’ll look at the virus. A virus has earned its name because of the infection-like nature and destructive capability it has. When we get a human virus, it messes with our system and shuts us down. A computer virus destroys data, or looks for information to send to the creator. It can even take control of some functions, or even all of them!
Our third offender is the worm. This is an offshoot of the ‘virus’ battalion. It has, like the virus, earned its name for being similar to the human ‘worm’. The worm virus will replicate itself and spread over a network, which means not only will you be infected, but everyone that you’re connected to might be in danger too!
Enemy number four is spyware. This is perhaps the most innocent of malware infections at first; spyware simply monitors your activity on your computer and the internet. It learns your behaviour and then targets you with adverts that you’ll be vulnerable to. Spyware can really slow your computer down too with its background activity, and is also notoriously difficult to remove.
Our final opponent you might come up against is the infamous Trojan horse. Many know the name, but few know what it really does. It gets its title from the famous story, where the Greeks snuck into Troy disguised as a gift. A Trojan horse virus disguises itself as a legitimate program that you might want to download, but in fact deliver your computer into the hands of your enemy. It might come through an email, or even just on a website. Unfortunately, the Trojan viruses are renowned for being experts in disguise. Make sure that you know that what you’re downloading is a legitimate copy, from a legitimate source. When you’re not sure about the source of your download, then don’t download it!
Spam emails, file sharing programs, torrenting programs, streaming websites and media download websites are the worst culprits for spreading viruses. When you have anything on your system from these sources or when you’re connected to a network with them running, you’re putting everyone at risk. In short, don’t go there!
So know you know who you’re up against, and had a brief peek into their battle plans. Often, the most dangerous types of malware are those that don’t pose an obvious threat. The most dangerous illnesses we can get as people are sometimes the ones that we don’t even know that we have. You might know what method malware will use to get to you, but you also need to know what you can expect to see and experience if you’re infected.
One of the most common things that you’ll notice is that things slow down. A lot of people just think that their computer is old, and ‘clogged’ up with programs. While this statement might be true to a degree, it isn’t something you should ignore if you notice a change in speed. Since there will be a lot going on in the background that you haven’t given your permission for, your CPU will be doing more than it should. On the surface level, you’ll have to wait a long time to get to your files, open programmes, use your internet browsers etc. You might experience freezes and crashes; sometimes your computer might just stop working, shut down or do strange things when it starts up.
Sometimes you might even notice missing files or some files that even appear that weren’t there before! They might be disguised as something that seems helpful, or something is even named as protection, but if you didn’t download and install it or permit it, then it could be malware.
Since some of the malware focusses on monitoring you and sending data out from your computer, you might also notice that emails and messages are sent from your accounts without you knowing about it. Check your sent items, but also ask your contacts to let you know if they receive any strange emails with advertisements or links in them.
As a business, as an organisation or even an individual, you can sometimes underestimate the impact of having a virus. Sometimes we can be a little bit complacent when it comes to protection and prevention, because we believe we can cope with the immediate consequences, rather than invest any money that we ‘don’t need to’.
This is one of the most important parts of our war on malware, and that is properly understanding the bigger consequences of letting it run rampant on your system. Let’s take one of the most basic pieces of malware, phishing scams and emails. Even if everyone in your office is savvy and aware of their tactics, they will still lose countless hours cleaning out their inbox. The immediate problems aren’t just about the issues that the viruses cause, it’s about the time factor. Literally billions of pounds every year are lost because of server downtime, cleaning up mess, sorting through inboxes, and lost data.
The latter aspect, lost data, is an extremely dangerous consequence for a business. The amount of information that is stored on a personal computer or a network is of almost immeasurable importance. Depending on the industry you are in, the information at risk could be your staff information, financial details, personal information, and even information about your clients. Your responsibility as an employer and an organisation is to protect this data and prevent any outside access to it. If it’s lost, you could be in danger of legal consequences, as well as thousands or millions of pounds worth of your files and hours’ worth of work being lost. To sum up this section, you could never invest enough into the war against malware.
Having read this article to arm yourself with knowledge, it’s time to arm yourself with some firepower. Now Sun Tzu would be satisfied that you know your enemy, you must learn how it is that you can fight it. There are many ways that you can start on a simple level, but progressing to an industry standard of protection is what you need.
The most basic form of protection that you need is an ‘antivirus’. You can find a lot of these antivirus programmes online, and many of them are free to download with the option of a superior solution if you pay for a premium program. These antivirus programs do offer you protection, and could catch some harmful perpetrators before they get to you, but many are caught when you do a system scan after having been free to wreak havoc unopposed. How then can you get peace, get protection, and really know that you are?
The complete solution is available in the form of an IT support solution. Industry standard companies need industry standard protection. More and more companies are realising that a complete IT support service has been essential and instrumental in their success and productivity. Not only will they protect you from the intrusion of malware, but they will make sure that your computers, networks, hard-drives and information and data is protected too. Through optimisation, protection, safety and new technologies you will be able to know that you’re covered.
A cloud IT solution is where the best protection and efficiency lies. Your data and servers can be hosted by an IT support company on their site, which means they can monitor and protect you around the clock. Many hours and profits are lost because of response times; you have to wait if you want your issue to be solved. A cloud solution means that your responses are instant, you can get the support and protection you need before you even know that you need it!