If you are a new business owner or someone who just started a small business, then you are becoming increasingly aware of the technical challenges of running a business. One of the biggest challenges is dealing with computer viruses. Viruses are programs that are designed to damage your computer. They can cause problems like slowing down your computer, making it crash, or deleting files. This can be very frustrating for anyone who uses a computer, especially when you have clients to attend to and customer data to protect.
Cybercrime is one of the biggest risks that businesses face, so whether you are new or old to the world of business ownership, these 5 tips will help you avoid computer viruses.
1. Be Aware of Computer Viruses
In the world of cyber security, it is important to be aware of any threats that could allow an attacker access to information you consider private. It is important to know how viruses attack in order to best protect yourself and your small business.
Viruses come in many different forms and they all have the same goal: to destroy the data on your hard drive. The most common type of virus is called an “email worm.” These types of viruses spread by emailing themselves out to people who receive them. If you get one of these emails, open it immediately because if you do nothing else with this message, it will infect other parts of your system. It could also delete important information such as documents, pictures, music, etc.
Viruses and other forms of hacking aren’t just about stealing people’s identities; it is also about taking control over other people’s computers in a way that allows hackers to do things without even the person realizing it. The reason why hackers use malware isn’t just about identity theft; sometimes they are deployed just to carry out distributed denial of service attacks where they flood a victim’s network with traffic until its resources crash. It is all done under the guise of bringing down a website when it is really just intended as a malicious attack on everything else behind it.
2. Use Antivirus Software
You should always use antivirus software when using a personal or business computer. There are several free antivirus programs available online, though for optimum protection of your small business we encourage cloud-based software that you have to purchase. Whatever you choose, these products work well and offer great protection against viruses. However, there are some things you need to keep in mind before installing any kind of anti-virus program. First, make sure that you download only legitimate versions of the product. Second, make sure that you install the correct version of the product for your operating system. Third, make sure that you update your security software regularly so that it has up-to-date definitions of known threats. Fourth, make sure that you run scans frequently.
Cybersecurity experts also recommend adopting a layered approach to cybersecurity, so while you’ll start with basic measures like antivirus software and firewalls, you should also consider email encryption, password management, multi-factor or two-factor authentication systems and secure remote desktop solutions. You should also deploy advanced endpoint protection tools and virtualization technologies to prevent attackers from gaining physical access to servers.
But don’t think that antivirus and these additional protections are a one-and-done deal. Some people get lax about running updates, which is another important protective measure. Most antivirus companies release monthly patches that fix vulnerabilities within their own software. They address vulnerabilities before hackers have a chance to exploit them. They also provide new features that enhance security, performance, stability, compatibility, and usability. However, it’s up to you whether or not you install these updates (unless you are operating on cloud-based antivirus.) Many people ignore software updates altogether. Some think they aren’t necessary since their computers work fine without them, or that the updates are time-consuming and interruptive to workflow. But updating your antivirus or scheduling automatic updates makes it easier to protect your company and client’s confidential information, so don’t skip those updates!
3. Email Best Practices
Email worms are another way that viruses can attack your computer. An email worm spreads itself through e-mail messages sent to friends, family members, co-workers, customers, clients, vendors, suppliers, partners, and others. When you send an email message containing attachments, photos, videos, audio recordings, links, web pages, or anything else, you might unknowingly pass along a virus. A simple solution would be to never attach anything to an email message unless you absolutely must. Another option would be to scan every attachment before sending it. But the best thing to do is simply to remove yourself from the list of recipients whenever possible. That means removing yourself from mailing lists, unsubscribing from newsletters, and avoiding sharing contact info with strangers. Also, remember that you cannot control how other people choose to share their contacts with you.
4. Use Strong Passwords
Passwords can either be a strong line of defense or the weak link in your cybersecurity. If someone gets hold of this type of sensitive information, they have the power to wreak havoc on your small business. Hackers can easily acquire passwords and other sensitive information through viruses. So, what makes a secure password? The answer depends on who will gain access to your information. In general, if you use the same password across multiple services, then you should change them all together. This includes changing your Facebook password as soon as you get home after logging onto your personal profile. You could also consider using different passwords for each service instead of one master password. It’s important to note that even though you may not want anyone but you accessing your private files, you still need to take precautions when creating new passwords.
Make sure that you don’t reuse old passwords because hackers know exactly where to look for weak passwords. They can easily search through previous login attempts by looking at logs stored on infected computers. To prevent this, always generate random, complex passwords. And, try to stick to a minimum number of characters and mix upper case letters, lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, punctuation marks, and special characters. Also, change your password periodically. That way, hackers will never guess what you chose last month. Instead, they’ll need to crack into multiple systems just to get access to yours.
This is also true for other hardware, like your printers and servers. Instead of choosing simple names like “admin” or “password1,” choose unique ones that include uppercase, lowercase, numbers, symbols, and even punctuation marks. Make sure not to store your login credentials anywhere where someone else might find them. It doesn’t matter how secure your home office may seem; no place is completely private from prying eyes.
5. Connect Safely
With the increase of work-from-home options, small business owners can provide more flexibility than ever to their employees. But one downside to consider is how they are connecting to your small business online. You have control over internet protections in your physical business location, but what about your employees that work from home? Or maybe you have a fully remote set-up where every single employee, including yourself, is logging into work systems from various locations. Cybercriminals can easily exploit unsecured networks, so here are a few things you can do to encourage safe internet connections from any location.
Make sure that you and your employees only log on through secure connections. That means no using the free wi-fi at your favorite coffee shop! While this might cause some challenges for employees on the road, anyone else can use their home internet system securely as long as they also have all the right antivirus and firewall protections deployed as well.
Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to further mask the location of devices that are used for your small business’ work. It will also encrypt internet traffic to make it harder for hackers to spy on you.
Are you ready to upgrade your cybersecurity and get the best possible antivirus protection for your small business? Tech Masters offers a free IT assessment that provides the best value upgrades for your business.
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