As part of our cyber security guides, today we look at quick tips to help protect your business from malware or malicious software.
PROTECTION FROM MALWARE
Malicious software, or ‘malware’, is software or web content that can harm your organisation.
The most well-known form of malware is viruses, which are self-copying programs that infect legitimate software. This section contains 5 free and easy-to-implement tips that can help prevent malware from damaging your organisation.
Here are 5 easy-to-implement tips that can help prevent malware damaging your organisation:
Tip 1: Install and turn on antivirus software
This is often included for free within popular operating systems and should be used on all computers and laptops. For your office equipment, you can pretty much click ‘enable’, and you are instantly safer. Smartphones and tablets will require a different approach.
Tip 2: Have a policy on downloading apps
You should only download apps for mobile phones and tablets from manufacturer-approved stores (like Google Play or Apple App Store). These apps are checked to provide a certain level of protection from malware that might cause harm.
You should review your staff policy on downloading apps, particularly to prevent staff from downloading third-party apps from unknown vendors/sources, as these will not have been checked.
Staff accounts should only have enough access required to perform their role, with extra permissions (i.e. for administrators) only given to those who need it. When administrative accounts are created, they should only be used for that specific task, with standard user accounts used for general work.
Tip 3: Keep all your IT equipment up to date
Make sure that the software and firmware is always kept up to date with the latest versions from software developers, hardware suppliers and vendors. Applying these updates, a process known as ‘patching’, is one of the most important things you can do to improve security.
Operating systems, programmes, phones and apps should all be set to ‘automatically update’ wherever this is an option.
At some point, these updates will no longer be available (as the product reaches the end of its supported life), at which point you should consider replacing it with a modern alternative.
Tip 4: Control how USB drives and memory cards can be used
Ensure you have a staff policy on the use of USB drives or memory cards to transfer files between organisations and people. It only takes a single user to inadvertently plug-in an infected stick (such as a USB drive containing malware) to devastate your infrastructure.
When drives and cards are openly shared, it becomes hard to track what they contain, where they have been, and who has used them.
You can reduce the likelihood of infection by:
- blocking access to physical ports for most users
- using antivirus tools
- only allowing approved drives and cards to be used within your organisation – and nowhere else
Making these directives part of your company policy will help prevent your organisation being exposed to unnecessary risks. You can also ask staff to transfer files using alternate means (such as by email or cloud storage), rather than via USB.
Tip 5: Switch on your firewall
Firewalls create a ‘buffer zone’ between your own network and external networks (such as the Internet). Most popular operating systems now include a firewall, so it may simply be a case of switching this on.
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