Follow any mainstream news site for any length of time and it will become readily apparent that small businesses are under increased threat from cyber-criminals. These attacks are a clear danger to the survival of the business and business owners have turned to computer network engineers to ensure that data is secure by ensuring that cyber security systems are able to cope with increasingly sophisticated threats.
How do malware and viruses impact on a business and what can small businesses do to protect themselves?
In order to understand the urgency of updating cyber-security it is first essential to understand the threat. Firstly, Malware. Malware is any code that is used without your permission to carry out undesired tasks on your machines or network. Malware takes many forms, including viruses, spyware, and ransomware – and is capable of damaging a business’s computer network, as well as holding data hostage or stealing sensitive information according to IT experts, sditservice.com.
A computer virus resembles its real-world counterpart in that it can replicate and reach out to infect other computers or devices using a common network. Many of these viruses have been expressly developed to damage computers and networks by erasing essential files, reformatting the hard drive or erasing the machine’s memory.
Ransomware has been developed by hackers to prevent a business from using data, in essence holding it hostage until the business pays a ransom for a software key that releases the information or the hackers remove access restrictions.
Spyware has a more subtle effect. It is software that is designed to go unnoticed while harvesting sensitive information from a system. Such information may include health status, physical address, contact details, social security numbers, and passwords to bank accounts and credit card information. It will also gather information on your browser use and IP address and allow access to your browser history – as well as other private information.
How to Protect your Small Business from the Malware and Virus Threats
Ensure that Antivirus and Anti-Malware software is regularly updated and keep an eye out for patches.
Businesses in almost any industry are well aware of the threat posed by Malware and have effective software cyber-protection solutions in place. Updated regularly this software is a powerful and effective way to ensure that Malware is not delivered via emails and downloads – and it will automatically block access to suspicious (potentially hosting Malware) sites.
Regular updating of Operating Systems, Firmware, and Firewalls is Vital.
A recently updated suite of anti-virus software is no guarantee that your business will be adequately guarded against Malware. It is essential that the protection provided by the anti-virus software is bolstered by a proven and updated Firewall solution, as well as a regularly updated operating system and firmware. This will elevate the safety of the company’s data – and increase protection against existing and developing threats.
Password Complexity is Important.
Don’t make it easy for those with malicious intent to guess your passwords. The classic example of an almost useless password is ‘123456’. Don’t use your name or names related to your business. Make sure that your password is a strong mix of both numerals and letters. Add symbols for even more security. Don’t use the same password to allow access to sensitive information or sites – it makes the hacker’s job easier. Ensure that your password is at least eight characters and ensure that all employees are aware of the password policy, understand the need for it, and abide by its guidelines.
An Equipment Use Policy must be in Place.
In today’s business environment, it is almost inevitable that employees will make use of assets such as smartphones and laptops. A clear policy must be developed that explains to employees how such equipment must be used – and the limitations placed on its use (such as use for personal benefit).
The Importance of an Employee Separation Policy
A sound Employee Separation Policy becomes an absolute necessity when an employee needs to be terminated. The policy must be strictly enforced, irrespective of the position held by the employee. This policy is aimed at preventing the ex-employee from accessing the company network once they are no longer employed. In the absence of such a policy, it is common for disgruntled employees to access networks and cause enormous damage by inserting Malware into the system or by obtaining sensitive data. A well-thought-out Employee Separation Policy will prevent this.
Employee Education on Computer and Network Support.
Employees need to be aware of the threat posed by cyber-criminals and how best they can protect themselves from this threat. Small actions like keeping social security numbers private and not communicating them using the Internet can make a big difference. Teaching employees to ignore links that are sent from unfamiliar email addresses is likewise important as these links can lead to sites hosting Malware that will infect their device – and the network.
Ensure Multi-Layer Protection.
A business needs to be protected by multiple layers of cyber security. The business that you are in is of secondary importance – especially to the hacker who is simply intent on stealing valuable data or disrupting the day-to-day operations of the business through Ransomware and other malicious attacks. Anti-virus software alone is not sufficient. Protecting both your customer’s data (and their physical safety) and the reputation of your company depends on having a network that is protected, safe from threats, and secure from malicious attacks using viruses and other types of Malware. Employing the expertise of a leading IT Services company will ensure that your organisation remains safe and once you monitor KPIs are met there should be no issues. At our team will help the business bring its network protection up to world-class standards or in many instances assist with the development of strategically sound IT and security policy.
Avoid Public or Unprotected Wi-Fi.
Malls, restaurants, coffee shops, and airports commonly offer free, public Wi-Fi. If you are using a business device or your device is connected to the company network in any way, avoid the use of these networks. If you are going to use these networks then ensure the safety of your device by setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Your employer will be able to provide you with an approved business VPN solution. Always think twice before clicking links and divulging personal information (in emails and on Messaging apps) when using a public Wi-Fi network – even if you are using a VPN as these are major conduits for malicious code.
Scan and Back Up Often
Your anti-virus software should be set up to run scans on a regular basis – and back up your files as often as it is feasible. Some employees will offer Cloud-based automatic backup options – take that option. Remember, if you cannot avoid downloading a file then you need to make sure that your anti-virus software is the latest version – and has been set to scan files before allowing downloads or installations.
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