We’ve all either heard the horror stories or experienced for ourselves, the stress of discovering that your computer system is infected with malware. While advances in technology have made it more possible to recover your device and data (rather than taking a total loss when spammed) it is still an expensive, complex, and stressful process. And there are some forms of malware and ransomware that encrypt or damage your computer so badly that you simply cannot recover everything. The best way to avoid being a victim of this kind of invasive damage is to stop malware before it infiltrates your system and drives your small business operations to a grinding halt. It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the differences between spyware and malware. Here are our best tried-and-true security tips to stop malware in its tracks.
Stop Malware with Layered Security
As security continues to get more sophisticated, there are more options than ever to protect your data. You need to consider the different types of protection needed for hardware, software, and your network.
You can protect your hardware with unique, complex passwords. A strong cybersecurity software plan will include layers of protection through a firewall, anti-malware, anti-spyware, and anti-exploit technology. There is even specific anti-malware software available now. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) keeps your employees safe when they are working remotely or traveling, and using cloud storage gives you added security managed by a team of experts.
Consider a combination of options that will work together to provide you the best security possible, within a price range that is affordable for your small business, and that will also be scalable as your business grows.
Stop Malware by Identifying Weaknesses in Security
Pay attention to reminders to update your operating system, browsers, and plug-ins. The more quickly you respond and command those updates to run, the harder your security systems will work for you. Updates are released frequently because they include patches that address security failures recently uncovered. So, don’t ignore them. Something that you may think is simply a routine update that could be delayed a while, could very well include a vital patch that will help your small business stay ahead of a current malware scam.
Weaknesses can often linger in old software, leaving you vulnerable to exploitation. Legacy apps on your computer such as Adobe Reader, Windows XP, or old media players are no longer supported; that means that patches are no longer being released for them. This makes them particularly vulnerable to attack. Take a hard look at the apps on your company’s devices. If there are any apps not being used or are no longer supported, remove them right away. If you still need any services that are covered by an unsupported app, then your only option is to upgrade or replace them to ensure that you won’t be exploited.
Malware can also use exploit kits that deliver malicious ads to your computer. This is also called malvertising, and can infiltrate your devices even through well-known sites. These work by infecting your computer through auto-playing ads. That means you don’t even need to click on an ad to have it infect your computer! Your best line of defense in this case is to enable click-to-play plugins that stop video ads before they start playing.
It means you would have to actually interact with the ad by clicking on it for the malware to start working. It’s an extra level of security and can be installed easily no matter what browser you use.
Stop Malware by Restricting Admin Accounts
The fewer people on your staff that have admin access, the fewer points of exploitation there are into your internal systems and security. Setting limits is a great way to stop malware.
When you restrict who can install and run software applications, you are setting healthy limits on network access and reducing your businesses’ exposure to malware through unapproved downloads.
Access to your system from a handful of individuals can sometimes seem like a good idea, allowing a level of delegation to several decision-makers who can assess needs and apply solutions. But it just isn’t wise to increase the number of admins on your system. You’re only increasing your vulnerability to risk and compromised data.
Stop Malware with Employee Training and Top-Down Security Culture
Employee training and a top-down security culture are two aspects that ensure humans don’t become the cause of a malicious cyberattack. We’ve grouped these categories together because they are interrelated and support an overall culture of adherence to cybersecurity. You can give your team the best training in the world, but it has got to be coupled with internal policies that reinforce them if you are going to be successful in your campaign to stop malware in its tracks.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you require your employees to use strong, randomized passwords, and that you also expect that they will update those passwords every six months. That’s a good start. But if you add on to that a company-wide security policy where you as the business owner commit to investing in a sophisticated multi-factor authentication system. . . boom! Now you’ve got it. This is a second layer of defense and a constant visual reminder of your company’s commitment to robust security.
These go hand in hand because you can’t expect your employees to take care of your cybersecurity for you if you aren’t also willing to invest in it. You have to invest financially in extras like multi-factor authentication, data and email encryption, and password managers that make it easier for your staff to work with you to ensure the security of your small business.
Company culture comes from the top down, and by demonstrating that you are willing to invest in and commit to a robust security plan, you can head off a lax mindset and poor habits around cybersecurity which lead to repeated human errors.
Schedule regular security meetings with your team to review protocols and best practice reminders. Best practices include using strong passwords, updating passwords regularly, and never sharing them with anyone else.
Stop Malware when you Backup Your Data
This last step doesn’t necessarily stop malware. What it does do is protect you in case a particularly malevolent bug makes its way through your security. Running regular backups and storing it securely at a different location ensures that you can continue normal business operations while you deal with removing the malware. Backups remove some of the most devastating effects of malware; loss of client data, historical records, and financial information.
Your best line of defense isn’t just choosing one option from the list above. A strong security plan will involve multiple strategies that work together to ensure you have the best possible protection against malware. Your business depends on it.
Investing in a robust security system is one of the best ways to protect your small business assets, network, and data. Our team at Tech Masters are experts in cybersecurity. We can assess your business, identify weak points, and create a custom security plan for you. Schedule a free consultation today!
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