What is malware?

Malware – or malicious software – refers to a range of harmful programs designed to damage your computer, network or server, and it can include viruses, trojans and worms. These programs target individuals and organizations, and can steal information, damage data, hijack website visits and spy on Internet activity.

Malware can hide inside innocuous-looking software (trojans) or spread between machines without relying on user interaction (worms). It can be custom-designed to evade defences and execute specific tasks.

Malware is usually delivered via email phishing or fraudulent links. Malicious apps and USB memory sticks can also compromise smartphones and computers.

Once inadvertently installed, malware can carry out many activities unseen. It may spy on website visits, destroy data, record your keystrokes, or piece together passwords. Ransomware is an increasingly popular form of malware that encrypts important business information until the organization pays a ransom.

What are the risks to your business?

  • Data loss
  • Financial loss
  • Hardware damage
  • Paralysis of business activity

How to defend your business against malware

  • Put in place strong response, recovery and back-up processes.
  • Run up-to-date antivirus software on all machines and consider systems that use file reputation and behavior analysis within a safe sandbox system. Network behavior anomaly detection (alert to attacker commands) is another systems security option.
  • Keep your PCs, servers and associated hardware up to date, installing the latest security patches as they become available.
  • Make sure that your staff avoid questionable websites and know not to download free software or apps, run Microsoft Office macros on email attachments or use USB sticks from unverified sources.
  • Consider application whitelisting (blocking any software not already authorized).
  • Use different passwords for different business logins. You can also build in timed password changes across the system, requiring staff to update passwords every three months, for example.
  • Consider two-factor authentication for entry to the network, for business-critical applications and for applications that access sensitive data.
  • Restrict access to sensitive applications by only giving usernames and passwords to staff who need them.
  • Require staff to shut down their computers completely at the end of the day to ensure they are receiving the latest security updates.

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