Malware is a generic term for I.T. related security issues such as phishing, viruses, Trojans and other harmful and unwanted I.T. activities. Malware infection is very widespread and the method of attack is constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated. Internet crime (of which security is the central pillar in the fight against this type of crime) is very big business and is worth billions of dollar per year to organized crime syndicates. Unfortunately many businesses view security threats as purely tangible i.e. an alarm will be fitted at physical locations and physical assets insured. Cyber crime however can be far more detrimental to a business; how would your customers react if cyber criminals attained their credit card details from your computer and sold them Online?
Here are five simple tips to increase your I.T. security. Fortunately there is usually no need to buy I.T. security software as the free software is just as good as paid-for software:
1. Install and use Anti-Virus Software
Paid-for Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware and Internet security software such as MacAfee and Norton are commonly used and are typically good products. Often however the costs of the products are expensive which discourage use and updating the software (and virus definitions). Fortunately there are a few very good competing products which are free to use and update (check licensing conditions of these products to find out if free use applies to you); AVG is excellent and Microsoft Security Essentials is new and getting rave reviews.
Of course, anti-virus and anti-spyware products are only useful is they are kept up-to-date and are used!
2. Install and use a Firewall
Quite simply, a firewall detects communication to or from your computer which is irregular and is typical of Malware. Much Malware is intended to gather and send data from an infected computer to the cyber hacker (e.g. credit card details). A Firewall attempts to detect and block this malicious transfer of data. Windows Firewall is included with Windows XP and Vista and is very effective. There are also numerous paid-for Firewalls however they are unlikely to offer any benefits over the free offering from Microsoft (i.e. Windows Firewall).
3. Update Software
Effective software developers are constantly updating software to be more secure. It is therefore essential to keep software updated. Some updating of software may be automated (such as Windows Updates and anti-virus updates) however the need to update other software may be difficult to detect. Fortunately there are free Online and software resources available that advise which software needs to be updated and will make updating more simple. One of these resources is Secunia; a scan will note what software needs updating and a link to the update is provided.
4. Secure Email and Internet Access
Email is the most prolific means of spreading malware. Most of us receive significant volumes of spam of which numerous are of ill intent. Fortunately most good email providers (including Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo Mail) provide junk-mail and spam filters. Ensure however that your email provider is providing a level of protection against illicit emails. Above all it is important to be conscious that cyber-criminals are attempting to gain access to your computer through email (awareness of security issues is discussed later in this article).
Internet Browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer and Firefox) have built in security which is effective however nothing replaces caution when it comes to Online security. Fortunately the major search engines don’t display known malware distribution sites and further Online security may be attained through the likes of AVG free edition (as discussed previously where every page visited is checked for malicious content.
5. Be Aware
Being conscious of the threat of I.T. malware is the most beneficial means of avoiding cyber-criminal activities. Stay up to date with security threats by reading articles on good quality computer security sites such as StopBadware. Most of all however always remain diligent and cautious and do not open files from unknown email addresses nor give away personal information online unless you are able to verify the requester.
The spread of Malware is at an all time high. Protection against Trojans, anti-spyware and other malicious content can mostly be defended against with free software. Don’t let your business be negatively affected through malware (if the head of the FBI can fall victim to cyber-crime then chances are, so can you).
If your require advice and guidance with, or implementation of, I.T. security contact me (I don’t sell hardware or software therefore am able to provide the best solution for your needs).