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Category Archives: Malware

5 Ways to Prevent Malware From Sneaking Onto Your Business Network

Prevent Malware - computer security concept

Malware is ever changing and always finding new ways into your device

The single biggest challenge of business cybersecurity is the fact that malware is built to be sneaky. It would be one thing if a hacker attack always triggered alarms and your IT team could fight them off like a castle siege. Or if you could always know what kind of malware would attack and prepare to defend against it. But that’s not how hackers and their automated malicious software work.

Instead, it is their goal to find gaps in your security, slip onto the system, and lurk until there is a way to do damage or otherwise exploit your company. Whether it is spyware, spamware, or ransomware, these malicious programs find ways to sneak into your business network in a wide variety of underhanded and unseen ways. Many businesses today are currently infected and have no idea that their data is being gathered, their IP address is being used for spam, or there is a ransomware attack waiting to strike.

We’ve put together five simple ways that your company can use to prevent malware from sneaking onto your business network in the first place. While hackers are always looking for a new angle, a comprehensive defense can significantly reduce your chances of getting a dangerous malware infection.

1) Fine-Tune Your Firewall

The first step is to make sure that your existing cybersecurity measures are not only strong, but detailed. A firewall is only as effective as it’s settings, and most default firewall settings are not sufficient to block cleverly designed malware. Open ports and generalized policies leave security gaps that malware, disguised as normal business network activity, can slip through.

Masking malware invasions is the primary way that hackers sneak through a firewall. The programs look and act like something firewall default settings will allow and then download themselves right onto your network. Work with your IT team and managed service provider to fine-tune your firewall so that only very specific work activity with key identifiers can make it through.

2) Employee Cybersecurity Training

Human error is actually the leading cause of business malware infections because employees must interact with outside sources like websites, downloads, and client communications in order to do their jobs. This is why hackers have long-since targeted employees with tactics like infected websites and phishing emails.

Your team can be trained to recognize dangerous websites, suspicious “client” interactions, potentially infected downloads, and phishing email attempts so that these are no longer an avenue for business malware infection.

3) Regular Virus Detection Scanning

It’s also safe to assume that at some point, malware will find it’s way onto your network. In fact, there might be some lurking right now from a time before you increased your cybersecurity procedures. This is why virus scanning is so important for both individual workstations and the network as a whole.

There are a variety of virus scanning solutions. There are programs that scan email attachments, computer hard drives, database servers, and complex networks. Make sure to perform comprehensive scans regularly to ensure that particularly sneaky malware does not stay for long.

4) Audit Employee Mobile Devices

Another dangerous avenue for malware infection are employee phones, tablets, and laptops. The more personal a device, the more likely it is that an employee has used it without a business-level of cybersecurity caution while at home or on vacation. The problem is that when these devices come into the workplace and connect to your office wifi, they might be bringing malware riders along with them.

It’s best to make a company policy that requires monthly virus scans of employee mobile devices, particularly if these devices are provided by the company. If employees are uncomfortable with having their personal devices checked for malware, ask them to refrain from connecting to the central company network with unsecured devices.

5) Work-Only USB Drives

Finally, watch out for USB drives. These incredibly useful little devices are great for transferring data from one computer and location to the next, but they can also be carrying infectious malware programs without the knowledge of the user. Once again, this is an especially serious risk when employees are using USBs they have brought from home.

If your workplace uses or permits the use of USB drives for file storage and transfer, make sure the drives are scanned and fully wiped regularly and consider limiting employees to only using work-provided USBs (that you can regularly secure) for plugging into work computers.

Malware is designed to be slippery, to hide on infected devices and to spread to new devices and networks when possible. Protect your business network from sneaky malware infection by covering all your bases, scanning for viruses regularly, and limiting employee’s ability to accidentally bring viruses to work from less careful personal online activities.

For more expert cybersecurity advice, a consultation on the health of your network, or a new MSP partnership for your business, contact us today!

3 Reasons Why Your Malware Needs Active Management

Business man downloading an anti-malware program or antivirus software

Are your servers and workstations protected?

Everyone knows the importance of installing malware and virus protection. Whenever you get a new laptop or device, a quick click to your preferred vendor is usually one of the first steps you have the computer connections to the Internet. But knowing how the programs work is almost as important as knowing how important they are.

How do malware programs work?

Most anti-malware programs compare downloads and new programs against a list of known malware signatures. In other words, they compare incoming data and code against recognizable bits of malware. If it finds a match, the new download is either blocked entirely or is more closely scrutinized.

Other types of antivirus and anti-malware tools investigate potential threats in different ways. They might test out suspect downloads in a closed environment, or a ‘sandbox,’ to see how it behaves. Some smart programs look at how downloads behave before weighing in. So most malware protections don’t just scan initial downloads and new activity. They also monitor your computer as a whole for new or suspicious behavior.

What do patches and new updates provide?

Malware is getting smarter and stronger all the time. Your tools need to update ahead of that curve to provide continuous security to your system. A lot of upgrades are centered around the program’s database of known threats. As the service provider and cybersecurity institutions identify new threats, they add them to the database. But if you don’t install the new patch or ignore the update alert, that new information is never added to your computer.

Updates can also improve control over the sandbox environment or add new warning signs for behavioral anti-malware programs to investigate. Basically, if your anti-malware was downloaded a year ago and never updated, it won’t know what to do against new threats. Virus creators and malicious actors know that people tend to be a bit lax on their updates, so they tend to focus on malware that doesn’t display any of the old warning signs.

Why should you leave the update schedule in the hands of your IT service?

Leaving update schedules up to your employees is bad for business. The same people who leave their computer in sleep mode instead of shutting it down for new updates also won’t update the software. Here are three reasons why leaving it in the hands of an administrator, especially a third-party administrator, is better:

1. You know that everyone’s device is up-to-date.

Some of your employees will update their anti-malware software as soon as they get the alert. Others might shut down their computer regularly enough that the system updates without their knowledge. But other updates might linger for days or weeks before they’re implemented.

When your company uses mobile devices that aren’t always on your network, it’s easier for unsecured devices to pick up a bug and bring it into the office. But, when control of the update schedule is centralized, you don’t have to worry about delays.

Centralized control also brings a stronger guarantee: you know that everyone is using the same program. BYOD policies and laptops that have been used by the same employees for years could have a random scattering of different antivirus programs, all with different levels of quality and privacy. But your IT service will both provide a program and ensure its updates.

2. You get a report so you can verify that your company is in compliance.

You don’t just want to know that everyone’s computer is updated. Depending on your industry, you might need regular proof of when updates happened and what types of updates they were. Regulatory agencies are getting more and more strict about data leaks, and professionals will give you records and receipts for your paper trail.

3. Internal emergencies won’t cause delays.

Even if you hand over anti-malware updates to a systems administrator in your office, there could still be delays. A website outage, a late product delivery, or even downsizing could get in the way of the schedule. But when you use a third-party IT service, the update schedule is preset and one of their business priorities.

If you want to make sure your anti-malware software is strong both now and in the future, browse our services to find the right package for your business.

Six Steps to Make Your Company Ransomware Proof (Part 2)

Six Steps to Make Your Company Ransomware Proof (Part 1)