As businesses worldwide continue to embrace digitization, the number of hacking incidents is rising. If your organization doesn’t have the tools required to protect itself from malware attacks, you are at risk of losing sensitive information and tarnishing your reputation.
What is Malware?
Malware is a combination of the words, malicious and software. It refers to all software installed on a computer without the owner’s consent or knowledge. Some of the reasons hackers create malware include stealing information and intellectual property, sending spamming messages, displaying adverts, and other illegal actions.
Types of Malware
Here are the common types of malware.
- Viruses – these are software that spread across your computer system by replication. The most apparent signs of virus infection are mysterious disappearances of files and reduced processing speeds.
- Worms – These are malicious programs that run in the background and mostly delete your files, take up bandwidth and send documents via email.
- Spyware – these are software used by hackers to steal sensitive information.
- Keystroke Logger – this is software that captures your keystrokes and sends the information to the perpetrators.
- A rootkit is a software that disguises itself as an operating system and grants hackers access to your computer system.
- Ransomware – these are programs that lock you out of a computer system until you pay ransom to the hackers.
- VPN Filter Malware –these infect routers to enable hackers to steal information and block network traffic.
Signs of Malware Infection
Suppose your computer starts showing the following, it might be a sign of malware infection.
- Pop-up windows and unexpected on-screen messages
- Slow performance
- Spam email
- Page and system crashes
- Unauthorized password changes
- New icons on your desktop
- Unexpected toolbars on your web browser
How to React After a Possible Attack
If you suspect a malware infection on your computer network, take the following actions.
- Download the most recent malware definition for your anti-malware and antivirus software.
- Run a full scan using both software.
- Disinfect the computer as per the software’s instructions.
- If required, reboot the computer.
Tips on How to Protect Your Business from Malware
Avoid Clicking Unsafe Links
Most organizations suffer malware attacks because of their employees’ recklessness. The best way to avoid such attacks is by avoiding unsafe licks. If you are unsure about the links and attachments in your email, ensure that you scan them using antivirus software before clicking or downloading them.
Exercise Caution When Sharing Sensitive Information
Social engineering is a method used by cybercriminals to trick people into sharing sensitive information. Precisely, the hackers pose as legitimate companies, clients, or business partners intending to acquire data that they later use to breach your organization’s computer network. For instance, they might call your customer support team and get hints about your passwords and security questions.
The best way to deal with social engineering is by creating a strict policy concerning the sharing of company information. Ensure that all your employees verify the identity of the party requesting sensitive data.
Enhance Your Network Security
Network security is vital in protecting your organization against malware. Suppose you regularly connect to the internet through email, live streaming, or VoIP; it would help if you installed a firewall. This special software filters and keeps a log of all connections in and out of your computer network. You can also improve your network security by making it private.
Install and Update Your Antivirus Software, Anti Ransomware, and Anti-Malware
Another of preventing malware attacks is by installing multiple security layers in your computer network. This involves the installation of anti-malware, anti-ransomware, and antivirus software. Having these ensures that each of the applications covers the others’ shortcomings, making your business less vulnerable to security breaches.
While installing the software mentioned above makes your computer network less susceptible to malware attacks, it is not sufficient to defend against possible breaches. You need to regularly update the software because cybercriminals are also evolving their malware.
Encrypt Your Data
Besides installing a firewall and the software mentioned above, you also need to encrypt your data. This encodes the information so that it is only understandable to the sender and the intended recipient. Even if an attacker manages to breach the firewall, they will not access your information without having the decryption key.
Protect Your Hardware
Although most cyber-attacks occur through the internet, this doesn’t mean that your hardware is safe. Some criminals prefer stealing your hard drives, flash disks, and other computing hardware before extracting the information on them later. For this reason, it is advisable to secure your business to protect your physical assets and the data they contain.
Use Strong Passwords
Strong passwords provide an extra security layer to your computer network. All services provided by the company must have a strong password, from emails to databases. Ideally, a password should have at least 12 characters, consisting of a mixture of numbers, uppercase and lower case letters, and special symbols. For extra security, you could also use multi-factor authentication.
Educate Your Staff
Several cyber-attacks are a result of employees being unable to detect potential malware attacks. As the business owner, educating your staff about potential threats like phishing and clicking on malicious links, you will reduce your organization’s vulnerability to hacking. It is essential to conduct the training regularly to ensure that the workers are up to date about the latest methods used by cybercriminals.
Back-Up Your Files
When you back up your files, you will have peace of mind knowing that you don’t have to start from scratch if anything happens to your computers. In case hackers steal your data, you can restore normal operations in the shortest time possible. The only loss you might have to incur is buying new equipment.
While nothing can entirely safeguard your organization’s computer network against possible attacks, implementing the measures mentioned above is an excellent starting point. Ensure that you purchase and regularly update your software, secure the system using a firewall, back up your files. More importantly, educate your staff to enable them to detect and prevent possible security breaches.