Hi, my name is Naomi Burgess and I’m going to tell you about the dangers of computer viruses and malware, and how you can protect your business from cyber attacks.
You’re probably familiar with such terms as “Trojan programs», “worms”, and “malware” – they’re computer programs that “infect” your computer with damaging viruses that corrupt your files, your data and can even permanently damage your hard-drive. Since most companies today use IT on a daily basis, the possible consequences of infections for them can include loss and potentially unlawful distribution of confidential company data, confidential client information, spam e-mails which are very irritating to clients, social media posts with disruptive content, full crushes of certain types of software and even a full shut-down of all the company’s IT systems. Not only are these events, as well as others of the kind that can also be caused by various computer viruses, can be disruptive to your daily business, but they can also have a detrimental effect on your customer relationships and retention levels, and therefore on your income figures. It’s therefore very important for any business owner to know how to protect their company from digital parasites.
Anti-virus is your hero
It’s absolutely vital that you purchase and install antivirus software on all your company’s devices. Any computer – from a CEO’s to a Security Guard’s – can be infected at any time and many viruses can easily spread from it throughout your company’s networks. The damage can be equally detrimental to both small and large businesses – it can destroy their systems permanently, turn away clients and lead to them losing their goodwill. Therefore, no matter what kind of business you run, you have to protect yourself and your company and invest in antivirus software.
Invest in Anti-Virus
The good news is that most providers offer a free trial that lasts a few weeks (usually up to eight), and even that amount of time can truly help you. Nevertheless, I strongly suggest that you purchase a subscription, not least because the computer virus industry is rapidly changing and advancing – people who create them are unfortunately very smart and capable of concealing their tracks. There are new viruses coming out each week at least, but purchased antivirus software updates regularly and is able to deal with even advanced malware. These updates are almost always part of the subscription service for most programs. It’s quite easy to stay on top of it – most updates upload on your computer automatically, and all you need to do is restart your machine once for them to take effect.
However, antivirus software is just one measure, and no provider can guarantee a 100% safety for your systems. I’ve stressed the importance of keeping them safe earlier in the post, so I strongly advise you to follow my suggestions on further steps towards protecting your business from “worms” and other parasites.
How Anti-virus works
Since most companies today use e-mails for internal and external communication, it’s only logical that creators of malware and Trojan programs would try and take advantage of that. If you don’t trust a sender of an e-mail, I would always advise against opening it, clicking on any links in the body, or opening any attachments. An antivirus program would be able to pick up dodgy digital data if you do end up doing that, but by then it might be too late – some links, attachments, or even a simple click on the e-mail might result in your computer sending out various spam e-mails to everyone on your contact list (co-workers, clients, suppliers and others), and things could escalate very quickly. And you certainly shouldn’t ever respond to, or forward, an e-mail if you have even the slightest suspicion that it could be spam.
Beware on Email Scams
Even if the sender seems trustworthy and doesn’t appear to belong in the spam folder, there are some e-mails that shouldn’t ever be replied to. For example, I don’t recommend that you answer e-mails from people or organisations that ask for your banking details, passwords to accounts, or any other security data for one reason or another. No legitimate organisation would ever ask for such information over an e-mail, especially not a bank.
Learn to Block Ads
Even if you have the best antivirus software on the market and you always ignore all the dodgy e-mails in your inbox, there are some harmful websites against which an antivirus program might work too late. For that reason, it would be a good idea to disable pop-up ads in your browser, or even install the AdBlock extension or its equivalent. If you know for sure that certain links are harmful, I’d also suggest installing a website block browser extension and make a database of all these links within it. The general rule about websites is – if you doubt about where a link would lead to, best not to click on it, no matter what the source was.
Back-up your files
But what if, despite all your precautions and safety measures in place, a worm or a Trojan has found its way into your company’s system? Firstly, you should always, always back up your files in case something like that happens – some of the worst viruses can erase a hard-drive entirely. Secondly, if you can, run an antivirus check as soon as possible on all the devices in the network to neutralise the threat as best as you can. Thirdly, make sure that you place a call to your IT people right away.
Viruses and malware are a big threat to many businesses, and you as a business owner should know how to protect yourself from them. I’ve told you several ways you can do so in this post and I hope that you’d never have to deal with a system that crashed due to a worm.