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Protecting Your Business From Malware

Posted on by Indos Computer Services

As businesses rely more and more on digital services and the internet, security becomes a greater concern. The internet offers huge opportunity to many small or medium sized businesses, but it also opens them up to the risk of attack from cybercriminals.

Malware and viruses can bring businesses grinding to a halt, as well as compromising private information and data of clients and customers. In this article we’re looking at the importance of protecting your business from malware and online attacks, and how you should go about doing so.

 

What is malware?

Malware is quite a broad term which encompasses a number of different ‘malicious software’ programs designed to damage, infect and otherwise interfere with a computer system.

Malware is unwanted, and is mainly transmitted without the user’s consent or knowledge over the internet. Malware can range from extreme threats such as viruses designed to spy on a user’s computer – which then transmits data back to the source of the attack – to adware which is designed to pop up advertisements repeatedly as a user browses online.

How damaging can malware be?

While some forms of malware can be classified as ‘nuisances’ – like some adware, for instance – others can have a dramatic impact in your computer. Some malware can infect the system memory, corrupting data or rendering a hard drive useless, while others are specifically created to spy on a system and obtain personal or sensitive information. For businesses entrusted with personal client information – such as bank details, names, addresses and so on – this poses a huge threat to online security and the integrity of the company itself.

For unprepared and unsecured users malware can be damaging in a number of different ways, depending on which kind of malware is contracted. Some malware will slow your computer down dramatically, targeting hard drives and system memory, while others will be more insidious, recording your inputs via a ‘keylogger’ and transmitting them back to the one responsible for the virus.

Malware is always changing, evolving to find new ways to infect and corrupt systems. That is why it’s vital to not only take steps to protect yourself and your business from the threat of malware, but to keep that protection constantly up to date.

How malware can be contracted

As we’ve said, malware comes in many different forms and from many different sources. You might download a malicious program through an email attachment, or from a website where you expect to be downloading something else.

You might have heard of the ‘trojan horse’ virus. This is a particularly nasty form of malware which masquerades as something else – a picture, video, program or piece of software, for example – but has devastating effects once you run it. Trojan horses can severely disrupt user experience on a computer, sometimes forcing certain programs to run without the user’s permission, or holding your computer ‘hostage’ until you offer money for the problem to be fixed. This is an example of malware used for completely fraudulent purposes, and can be tricky to remove if already interacted with.

Other forms of malware can come from following suspicious links online, or visiting websites which harbour things like malicious adverts or links. It can sometimes seem like malware is out to get you, assaulting your network from all sides, but there are a few ways to avoid malware and protect your computer without much hard work at all.

 

Get protected

There are two main considerations to make when fighting malware: how you interact with and use the internet, and finding dedicated protection software.

You can greatly reduce the amount of malware you see and download by being cautious online. Only download and open things from trusted sources, and do research online beforehand if something seems suspicious – a number of programs will look entirely legitimate, but harbor some kind of nasty surprise once downloaded. Being mindful of your browsing habits and stringent about what you are and aren’t allowed to download will prevent a lot of headaches in the future. Emails are a common threat, so only open emails from known or trusted senders, and never open attachments on emails you don’t trust – no matter how curious you might be.

You can never be too cautious, though, and finding reputable, trustworthy virus protection will go a long way towards helping you stay safe online. Your computer should have a dedicated virus protection program installed and updated to identify and remove viruses as they appear. For the most part, you can find effective programs for free, such as AVG Free or Avast. Malwarebytes’ Anti Malware is also a very useful piece of software that specifically targets things like spyware, and other dangerous malware, which might otherwise slip through undetected.

Your chosen programs should be updated regularly to keep up with new or different forms of malware, and you should use these programs to scan and analyse anything you download.

Protecting against online attacks should be treated with paramount importance. Small businesses can be crippled by malware, and without proper protection it might be a significant amount of time before the problem can be fixed. Businesses in charge of personal or sensitive information should be extra cautious, as it’s not only your data and hardware at risk, but the information of your clients. A breach which exposes this can be the death knell for a company, so it pays to take precaution.

Indos Computer Services provide friendly and reliable IT support for small and medium sized businesses throughout St Albans, Watford and Hemel Hempstead. From technical support to network and backup services, along with real time advice and assistance for your IT concerns, we are dedicated to helping you navigate the online world with ease. For more information on all of our services, dont hesitate to get in touch with us today.

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