When it comes to protecting your business from viruses, malware and ransomware, most people want something that will give them complete protection from every threat out there. Unfortunately, that is just not feasible. There is no single product, or combination of products, on the market today that can guarantee your business will never be infected. However, there is something you can do to prevent attacks on your business: be proactive. There are several options available today that are must haves in order to keep your business safe from cyber-attacks, including firewalls, anti-virus software, patching, remote access and end-user education.
Firewalls are essentially a combination of hardware and software that all data must flow through whether it is coming into or leaving your computer. This is usually the first line of defense in place to protect your system. Firewalls analyze and prioritize all data to ensure only valid information makes it to your computer.
Anti-virus software is installed on your company’s server and then loaded onto all of your computers, which creates a centralized control and management of the software. Anti-virus software actively scans each computer, searching for viruses that could be infecting the machine. When a virus is identified, the anti-virus company is alerted and they write a fix program called a signature. The signature is then distributed to all computers on the server to remove the virus.
In recent years, a new form of anti-virus software, called end-point protection has been developed to provide a more proactive approach to tackling virus issues. The software is downloaded just like older versions, but instead of actively scanning files on each computer, each new program opened or file downloaded is sent to the cloud where it is scanned before it is opened. The software will alert you to potential threats and you ultimately make the final decision of whether or not to open it.
When software is written, there are often security holes that are later identified and need to be fixed through updates. Known as patching, these updates typically need to be done on a regular basis to ensure your computer is receiving the most up-to-date protection available. We’ve all been annoyed by the constant reminders to update our Windows or other software we receive from time to time, but it is important to keep your computer and programs updated in order to prevent cyber-attacks.
The rise of technology has led to an increasing number of telecommuting employees and employees who are able to work out in the field. One of the most common ways for those employees working outside the office to access their work computer is with a program known as Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). This program allows employees to work from their homes, on location or while traveling. RDP works by installing software onto a mobile device that is used to access the employee’s work computer. In order for companies to allow their employees access through RDP, several security ports have to be opened. This creates vulnerability in the system and an uptick in attacks against these open ports has been seen in recent years.
To combat this risk, new solutions are being developed. Perhaps the fastest, simplest and most popular solution is the Virtual Private Network (VPN). After the VPN software is installed on the mobile device, an employee logs in with a username and password. This creates a private connection between the computer and the company, eliminating the threat of attacks against open security ports. This also proves to be more efficient for the employee, allowing them to work as if they were sitting at their computer in their office.
With all of the must haves out there for keeping your business safe from cyber-attacks, this is without a doubt the most important. Since we know that no solution or combination of solutions is fail safe, educating your users is critical when it comes to keeping your computers secure. The fact remains that viruses, malware and ransomware can be sent via email attachments and links. Employees should be trained in what to look for when it comes to emails so they can identify and flag emails as security risks. These cyber-attacks are costing companies millions of dollars and the most common point of infection is the end-user. Investing in training for your employees is the most proactive way to prevent a cyber-attack from hitting your business.
While there is no way to keep your business 100% safe from cyber-attacks, there are ways you can be proactive in countering threats before they happen. Stacking multiple layers of protection such as firewalls and anti-virus software, making sure your systems are always up-to-date, changing the way your employees work remotely and educating your employees about the risk of cyber-attacks give you the best odds of not being infected.