I think I am quite right in saying that all of us have had a virus at some point in our lives. They’re so easy to get nowadays, even us professionals can sometimes click the wrong button and end up with tons of random junkware installed. Let’s start by explaining what a virus is, I quote:
A computer virus is a program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes. Viruses can also replicate themselves. All computer viruses are man-made.
Malware is the group term for all things malicious that run on your IT systems. A virus is malware. Spyware is malware so on and so forth. Hopefully, this article will help you understand how you can prevent viruses & malware from gaining access to your IT systems.
Prevention is much better than the cure
I know this a boring, overused phrase but seriously preventing malware is key and it’s really cheap or even free to do so.
FREE? Yep, even for free. There are a fair few Antivirus/Antimalware pieces of software that do an adequate job of keeping you safe but we’ll touch more on that a little bit later on.
Let’s go through the points, starting from the top
Your devices connect to the Internet, the Internet is generally delivered to you down a Telephone line, you then have a device called a Router which creates the connection to your Internet Service Provider, thus giving you Internet access. Now in most cases, your computers plug straight into your router giving you instant Internet Access. However, you can add a physical piece of hardware between your computers and the router, called a Firewall. Firewalls are little (or sometimes huge) devices that filter traffic, they let good things through and keep bad things out. Most firewalls have some form of Antivirus bolted onto them this will filter viruses and pieces of malware before they even get the chance to touch your IT equipment. Firewalls can be pricey, but have a whole host of other features and uses other than just Network filtering. Firewalls are sometimes required depending on your businesses network setup (multiple internet connections, DMZs etc)
2. Web filtering & spam filtering
The next part of this article is some form of web filtering system. Filtering dangerous, malware-laden websites out so you don’t even get the chance to visit them. Some Antivirus products (I know ours does!) come with some form of browser addon, which does what I mentioned in the last sentence – prevents access to specific websites that are known to have malware ridden content on there. This is a very cost effective approach.
The other more technical approach to this is something called DNS filtering. Let me try and explain this one for you. When you visit a website, so let’s say www.roundworks-it.co.uk your network converts that friendly name to a set of numbers. IT, on the whole, is very dependant on numbers. When it converts that friendly name to a set of numbers it uses a technology called DNS – Domain Name Resolution. This DNS resolution part can be performed by a number of devices, what we can do though is pop all your DNS requests through a service which filters out (just as the web filtering addon did) bad websites and content. In a nutshell, when you visit a website it goes through a service which checks that website for dangerous content and if there is none it lets you right on there.
A good percentage of viruses come via the glorious invention of Email. Fake director emails, fake invoices are two popular ones right now. Having a good Antispam solution in place is essential if your Email system is prone to spam.
Having a good, solid lightweight Antivirus is one of the last steps. This is the piece of software that sits on the machine you work on. If you don’t have a firewall, web filtering, spam filtering etc then this is the player that could save you from a virus or malware. As you can imagine, some Antivirus software picks up items others don’t – that’s why it’s important to have a few layers above you, just in case your Antivirus doesn’t pick up this months newest virus or piece of malware. A couple of free ones that are fairly lightweight are Avira, Avast & AVG. The free ones do have drawbacks, usually adverts or key important features lacking – our preferred Antivirus solution is completely ‘set and forget’, no need to manually run scans or updates, it’s all done right for you.
A few tips from the gang at RoundWorks IT
- Be savvy – think before you click. Do I really get a free car if I click this link? Is the company director really wanting me to pay £15,000 to a company we don’t even work with?
- Have a good Backup and Disaster Recovery Solution in case you do get a nasty Virus – I cannot count how many times viruses have encrypted computers/servers. Without a Backup they would be in serious trouble.
- Keep your software up to date – remember, we’d do this for you as a client of ours! This can also help prevent the most recent computer viruses.
- Run some form of 3rd party Antivirus – don’t rely on Windows Defender, please.
If you are worried about your businesses security setup, let’s have a word. We’ll pop over and do you a Free IT audit to make sure you aren’t left vulnerable.