Malware is not a minor threat lingering on from the dot-com era. It is a continually growing issue, with 9.32 billion attacks reported in 2017. SonicWall reported that this is an 18.4% growth over 2016. If you don’t have a plan in place for handling this threat, your business is at risk. “Malware attacks can be incredibly destructive,” OpenVPN CEO Francis Dinha recently told Digital Journal. “Strategically placed malware can put all of your information at risk, including banking and financial info.”
If your business suffered an attack, it could shut you down, destroy data, spread further, and cause expensive issues.
What is in your business plan for managing malware? Does it include these important strategies?
1. Educate! You can have the most extensive system, the latest hardware, and keep it consistently updated, but if you don’t educate your employees, it doesn’t matter. “The fact is that most employees simply don’t understand the associated risks to the company,” Dinha said. When a team member causes a cyber attack, it’s typically not with malicious intent. It’s that they don’t know better. Set up a regular training schedule, whether it’s classes, online webinars, or even quarterly emails. Teach them important security tactics. For a list of top ten tips for educating employees, check out our previous post.
2. Stay up to date. Make sure you download and install recent security patches as soon as possible. When was the last time you checked your router firmware? Is it up to date? Check the administration settings and enable automatic firmware updates. Many routers have that disabled by default. Keep your software and operating systems updated regularly as well
3. Use unique passwords. Make this a requirement. An OpenVPN cyber hygiene study this year found that 25% of people use the same password for everything! Don’t risk one hacked account turning into multiple lost accounts due to this bad security habit. Using two-factor authentication and biometric passwords adds additional security as well.
4. Use a VPN on public WiFi. The ease of connecting to hotspots, from coffee shops to hotels and even public parks, means we use public WiFi all of the time now. Whether on your phone or a laptop, once you’ve connected to the network, are you accessing private information or sensitive company information? Only do so once you’ve taken protective measures and encrypted your traffic through a reliable VPN. Otherwise, you’re risking your data being stolen by others sniffing on that network.
5. Back up your valuable data. Recovering from a malicious attack, hardware failures, or natural disasters means turning to your backups. If something happened today, do you trust your backups? Make sure they’re complete, regularly scheduled, stored offsite, and tested.
“Malware attacks can originate from anywhere,” Dinha warns. They could come from “an application you download online, a virus injected into your system via an insecure network, or an email attachment downloaded from an unknown sender.” Unless you take protective measures, your business is at risk from painful loss. But you can feel confident in your safety when you put a smart cyber security process in place. It’s an investment you can’t afford to disregard.