With the constant headlines featuring businesses having their data compromised, it can be difficult to keep up, and even more difficult to know how to handle these ever-evolving threats. As a CEO or a financial director, you know the threat is real and could potentially cost you your business. The first step you can take towards safety is educating yourself and your staff on the common misconceptions that hackers want you to believe.
Here are 4 Misconceptions About Cyber Threats That Are Costing You.
#1: Spyware and Malware is easy to remove
Some spyware and malware CAN be removed using a widely accessible programs, some of which are ‘free’ (at the cost of your personal data being sold).
However, not all malicious programs can be removed – or even detected – using this software. Many programs integrate so deeply into the operating system that it takes a skilled technician several hours to fully diagnose and remove the malicious program. In some extreme cases, there is no alternative, but to wipe the hard disk clean by deleting all of the files on it and re-installing the operating system.
Obviously this is NOT an ideal situation. Unfortunately there are some malicious programs that are so intelligent that there is simply no other way of removing them.
The risk you run when using free software is that they are not licensed for business use – which could result in legal implications. Also because they can’t detect everything, you won’t know for sure if your device is infected. If you continue to notice that your computer runs slow, continue to get crippling pop-ups, or any other tell-tale signs, you will need to seek the help of an experienced IT company.
#2: It is my computer’s fault that I continue to get attacked by spyware, malware, and viruses
In all cases, malware, spyware, and viruses are a result of some action taken by the user (you or an employee). Remember, cyber criminals are incredibly clever and gain access to your computer via some of the most innocent and common activities you are performing; that is why it SEEMS as though it is your computer’s fault.
For example, one of your employees could innocently download an emoticon software program. Emoticons are the smiley faces and action characters that you see at the bottom of many people’s e-mails. In doing so they also (unknowingly) downloaded a payload of spyware and malware to your network.
Other deadly programs to avoid are free “enhanced” web browsers, screen savers, and just about any “cute” programs you come across that are free to download. Always read the terms and conditions before downloading ANY program to look for clauses that allow them (the software vendor) to install spyware programs on your computer. Employees should be restricted from downloading any of these from the web and educated to the dangers of them.
Installing programs is not the only way a hacker or malware can access your computer. If you do not have the most up-to-date security patches and virus definitions installed on your computer, hackers can access your PC through a banner ad on the web that you accidentally clicked on or through an e-mail attachment that you opened.
Hackers have even been able to figure out ways to install malicious programs on your computer via your web browser EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T CLICK ON ANYTHING OR DOWNLOAD A PROGRAM. Microsoft is constantly providing patches to their operating system software and all it takes is one missed update to leave you completely vulnerable.
#3: If my computer network is working fine right now, I don’t need to perform maintenance on it
This is probably one of the biggest and most deadly misconceptions that most business owners fall victim to. Computer networks are just like cars. If you don’t change the oil, change the filter, rotate the tires, and perform other regular maintenance on your car, it will eventually break down and cost you FAR MORE to repair than the cost of the basic maintenance.
Here at m3 these things come as standard:
- Constantly – system event monitoring, virus scanning and spam filtering, DNS content protection
- Daily – local system backups, cloud-to-cloud backups (you are backing up Office 365/SharePoint data right?)
- Weekly – installing security patches and updates, routine system maintenance (clean up temporary files, check hard drive integrity, etc)
If your IT provider does not provide these as part of the service, then RUN – don’t walk – out of their office. Lack of system maintenance is the NUMBER ONE reason most people end up losing valuable files and incurring heavy computer repair bills. If your IT provider isn’t offering you these services, you need to find someone else to support your computer or network for two reasons:
- Either they don’t know enough to make this recommendation, which is a sure sign they are horribly inexperienced, OR
- They recognise that they are profiting from your computer problems and don’t want to recommend steps towards preventing you from needing their help on an ongoing basis.
Either reason is a good one to get as far away from that IT company as possible!
#4: The firewall and security tools provided in the Microsoft Operating System are all the maintenance and protection I need
Again, this is a terrible misconception. Microsoft does NOT include ALL of the security features to protect your data from viruses, hackers, and data loss or prevent your PC from running slowly. As a matter of fact, there is no one single vendor that provides ALL of the system security features you need to keep your computer and files safe from harm.
Security and protection from these malicious attacks takes a multi-faceted, layered approach.
How you can tackle these threats and protect your business
Taking on the world of cyber threats is a multi-layer process, and needs an expert to ensure your business isn’t another statistic in the growing number of victims.
At m3 Networks we have a team of experts who understand your business needs.
If you have any IT issues, or need some expert advice, book your FREE 30 minute consultation with our MD Mark Riddell.