Preventing malware from getting into your network is a primary security concern for virtually all businesses. Businesses of almost every size and industry are actively combating the growing threat of malware, which comes in many forms ranging from annoying to destructive. Malware generally refers to any piece of computer software that is installed on a computer either by the user or without their consent.
In many cases, malware attacks have resulted in a loss of data for the company. In fact, malware attacks are among the top causes of lost data for IT professionals. While there are some well-known malicious software programs, most of the commonly used programs are designed to perform a specific task – such as recording Internet traffic or displaying pop-up windows.
When an employee opens a message from an unknown source, it could be interpreted as a malicious email, which could result in possible data loss for the company. Another way in which malware can be spread is through a virus or worm. These programs can work both ways – they can be used by the company themselves in order to transmit their own viruses into the network as well as to spread through the network. Other types of viruses are used by cybercriminals to hack into a victim’s computer and extract personal and financial information. Personal information is typically stolen in this manner through phishing techniques or via what is known as a “worm.”
For many companies, the creation of a signature file is used when downloading software from websites. These signature files are often located in the form of part of an executable file, which contains code that runs whenever the file is downloaded. Unfortunately, these same signature files are often used by cyber criminals to exploit a PC’s vulnerabilities and then transfer personal and financial information across the Internet. With an alarming frequency, malicious software such as spyware, adware, worms, and Trojans are being developed to exploit common vulnerabilities in computers and send fake emails, pop-ups, and even telemarketing calls to consumers in order to steal their personal data. The most common scenario is the downloading of malicious software from a website with either poor security practices or which has become infamous due to its fraudulent activities.
Not all attacks on a PC are from outside sources. Many times attackers utilize a legitimate piece of software as a tool for phishing. This is typically done when the software is downloaded from the Internet. Once the download is complete, the unsuspecting consumer will open up the piece of software, only to find that it installs more malware onto the PC. This is because the anti-malware software has been tricked into believing that the program that is being downloaded is trustworthy, and thus allows it to run covertly. The hackers then have an opportunity to make specific changes to the system settings in order to ensure that the software functions in the best capacity.
Since many businesses now have cyber espionage as one of their primary goals, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to rely on self-regulation techniques alone. It’s been shown that most malware programs were created by cyber criminals looking to gain access to private consumer information. As a result, most companies cannot afford to rely on simple anti-malware or anti-spyware tools that may not be effective enough against sophisticated cybercriminals who continually create new viruses and perform manor scams. Therefore, the need for business security services is growing rapidly.
Businesses must begin taking more proactive measures against malware before they are affected by a cyber attack. The easiest way to go about preventing malware infections is through installing an anti-malware or anti-spyware program on company-owned computers. Many companies who do not yet have these installed are making the decision to get them immediately. Companies that already have USB drives available can also implement these into their existing firewall infrastructure, further limiting the damage done by cyber criminals.
While it’s possible to prevent malware attacks using security services alone, this is often not enough. Most high profile businesses rely on their own IT staff as well as outside resources such as outside consultants to help them detect, investigate, and respond to cyber threats. However, even with a dedicated team in place, there’s still a very real possibility that a malware attacker will get into your system unnoticed. For that reason, it’s also very important that you’re vigilant in your defense against malicious online hackers. A properly implemented firewall combined with vigilant monitoring and response can keep threats at bay, but the best defense is prevention.