The internet has brought a wealth of positive benefits for business but staying safe online is vital too.
Computer viruses, Trojans, worms and Spyware can access your device in a number of ways. Whether you receive an infected email, accidentally click an unsafe link in an email or web page, or download an infected file, your devices are vulnerable to attack.
Criminals can use a range of techniques to attack weaknesses in your IT systems, so keeping up to speed with the best tools for defence is essential.
There are several basic steps you can take to ensure your computer and your personal data stay safe.
Install antivirus software and keep it up to date
Your antivirus software can work as both protection and a remedy.
All Windows users should install business-grade antivirus software on their device (PC’s, tablets and servers). Business-grade antivirus software will update the virus definitions more frequently throughout the day thus, providing better protection against fast emerging vulnerabilities.
Keep Windows up to date
Microsoft usually sends out updates every second Tuesday of every month. The updates are regularly security related, and fix holes and vulnerabilities that have been newly discovered.
Update other software on your computer
It’s not only Windows and your antivirus software that you need to keep up to date to help protect your device. Many programs that are used in web browsing, including Flash and Java, can be used by attackers to infect your computer.
User access rights
Locking down access to a computer system is another way to reduce the chances of a virus or Trojan installing itself. As default, a user should only have a standard user right which disallows the user from installing anything on their PC whether it is intentional or otherwise. Having an administrator who logs into the PC to install or update systems reduces the risk of getting systems and networks infected. This can seem frustrating and time-consuming with regular updates from Microsoft and other software companies, but it is much better and quicker to prevent than cure an issue.
Users media devices
Another way that viruses and Trojans can enter the work system is via user’s media devices such as external USB drives, memory sticks and media cards. Some antivirus software has a setting to check media every time a storage device is attached to the USB ports. You can also lock down the USB ports on a computer to restrict the use of personal USB devices.
Surf the internet smart
Even with all Windows, antivirus and other programs up to date you can still accidentally download and run an infected file whilst surfing the internet.
There are a few tell-tale signs you are on an unsafe website;
1. A popup advertisement window opens when you click on a link or anywhere on the page.
2. You are prompted to download or accept a new plugin or extension.
3. You are asked to download a new codec/player to play a video.
If you encounter a website like this leave the site. And run a full virus scan (just to be safe). The information you are looking at usually can be found elsewhere on safe websites.
A tip from AVG: If you use your computer for online banking and other sensitive operations, an easy way to increase your security is to use two different browsers. Use one browser strictly and exclusively for your banking, and the other for casual browsing, social sites, etc.
Download files ONLY from KNOWN trusted sources
You can drastically reduce the risk of an infection by knowing what and from where you are downloading a file.
Any download item that has been downloaded without your permission is potentially dangerous. The same is true for files (especially programs, but also videos and other multimedia) downloaded from unverified sources, or unexpectedly received via email.
This means it is advisable not to use File Sharing and Bit Torrent websites. What hackers and malware creators have realised is many people are downloading software illegally. As there is no real accountability for what is placed on File Sharing and Bit Torrent sites, hackers and malware creators are embedding viruses, spyware, malware, etc, into lucrative file downloads like Microsoft Office.
Always choose the author’s or manufacturer’s website, or one of the well-known and trusted download websites such as cnet.com. “Free” links to otherwise paid software, posts in public forums pointing to presumably free downloads and software available from download on file sharing sites rather than a trusted/author’s website are particularly suspicious and should be avoided.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are now increasingly being targeted by attackers. One of the main risks is messages or posts that seem to come from a friend. Most of them are usually links to another site that once clicked will install a virus, malware, or spyware.
If you see a message from a friend that looks suspicious to you, contact him/her and make sure they meant to post the link, text or video. Do not click the link or follow the instructions until you verified that it is safe.
Phishing emails are emails that attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and bank/credit card details.
How can you spot a phishing email?
1. Are you expecting the email? For example, if you receive an email from a bank that you do not have an account with.
2. How is the email addressed? Be wary of generic greetings. If it’s personal to you then it’s more likely to be genuine.
3. Does the email encourage an action? Be cautious of emails that prompt an action – such as sharing personal details, opening attachments or accessing links, particularly if they do so with a sense of urgency.
4. Where has the email come from? Look very closely at the FULL address after the “@” to ensure it is the same as the company’s web address and not from a free web account. E.g. Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc.
What can DVAD do to help?
IT Support Contracts from Direct Voice and Data will ensure a proactive approach to ensuring antivirus, Windows or other software is kept up to date. We offer antivirus protection for both individual PCs and servers.
Direct Voice and Data also offer web filtering products to block access to known issue websites and/or control web traffic for general use. Additionally, you can choose e-mail spam filter products which minimise the level of spam e-mail (including Phishing e-mails) into the business.
Please contact a member of our Direct Voice and Data – Sales Team for more information on how we can help keep your IT secure – 0800 84 999 84