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The Four Most Costly Misconceptions About Spyware, Malware, And Other Computer Threats

virus protection

Do you know why there are so many different viruses, and other damaging entities, on the Internet today trying to gain access to your machines and data?

We’ll give you a second to think about it…

The answer is a simple one.

THEY WORK.

They work because so many people fail to take the appropriate steps to protect themselves, and unfortunately, it only takes one good infection by a pernicious hunk of code to bring your business to its knees. What’s worse is they can destroy the credibility you earned from customers by using the information stolen from your business to potentially ruin their lives too.

So protecting your business is essential.

Many times businesses’ lack of protection from viruses and malware isn’t intentional. In fact, in our experience, we’ve found most businesses believe they are adequately protected until we evaluate their situation and find out their protection software is either out of date, not installed/configured properly, or not even turned on.

In other words, the average person, who doesn’t study technology, and work with it every single day, knows just enough about viruses and malware to be dangerous. That’s why we’ve put together these few tidbits outlining a few commonly held misconceptions about the issue.

#1: Spyware and Malware is easy to remove.

Some spyware and malware CAN be easily removed using a program such as Spybot’s Search & Destroy (you can download it for free at: www.safer-networking.org) or Ad-Aware (you can download it at www.lavasoftusa.com/support/download).

However, not all malicious programs can be removed – or even detected – using the above 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, we have had 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 and we do everything within our power to avoid it. Unfortunately there are some malicious programs that are so intelligent that there is simply no other way of removing them.

Of course you can use Spybot or Ad-Aware as a first attempt at cleaning your machine; however, if you continue to notice that your computer runs slow, if you continue to get crippling pop-ups, or any other of the tell-tale signs discussed earlier, you will need to seek the help of an experienced computer technician.

#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 programs from the web and educated to the dangers of these programs.

Installing programs is not the only way a hacker or malware program 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.

Just recently, hackers have even been able to figure out ways to install malicious programs on your computer via your Internet Explorer web browser EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T CLICK ON ANYTHING OR DOWLOAD 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.

Finally, you should COMPLETELY AVOID any and all peer to peer file sharing networks such as KaZaa. These sites are the absolute WORST online activities you can participate in for your computer’s health because they are pure breeding grounds for hackers, spyware, malware, and other malicious attacks. Again, most of the infections we see come from employees accessing these websites for personal use on company machines.

#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, flush the transmission, 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.

There are certain maintenance checks that need to be done daily (like virus updates and spam filtering), weekly (like system backups and a spyware sweep), and monthly or quarterly like checking for and installing security patches and updates, disk defrag, spyware detection and removal, checking the surge suppressor and the integrity of the hard drive, and so on.

Your computer repair technician should be adamant that you have regular maintenance done on your computer and should offer to set up automatic virus definition updates, spam filtering (to avoid viruses), and automatic system backups that are stored on an OFF SITE location (this protects the backup from fire, flood, or other natural disasters).

   If your technician does not press you to let him do this for you, 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 technician isn’t offering you these services, you need to find someone else to support your computer or network for two reasons:

  1. Either they don’t know enough to make this recommendation, which is a sure sign they are horribly inexperienced, OR
  2. They recognize 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 person 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 are you tackling this issue right now in your digital environment? Is your customers’ data safe in your hands?

Not sure? We can help you find out how well your data and network are protected for certain, and for FREE. Checking your system for virus, spyware, and malware, protection is part of our Data Security Analysis, a free service where we go over your network in painstaking detail and then go over our findings with you.

Learn more about our Free Data Security Analysis, and request yours today.

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