Blog – Viruses, Malware, Ransom ware and other nasties.
Hi and thanks for reading in this edition of our blog; we’d like to explore what a virus is a how they can be avoided with some really basic steps.
Please share with anyone that may find it useful.
What is a Virus?
Simply it is a malicious computer program designed to cause either harm, inconvenience, to make financial gain or gather information about a computer user e.g. Usernames and password or financial information.
Malware / Viruses: Have been in play since computers were invented and started to spread more easily with the growth in domestic internet use.
Ransom ware: Is relatively new, it’s a type of malicious program or malware that locks files and access to computers until a ‘ransome’ is paid.
How do I get a virus in the first place?
The most common way to pick up a virus is by downloading malicious files from the internet or from email attachments. Often this malicious software is downloaded from web sites that offer free music or resources.
There are other ways of course like by sharing removable drives with other people, hackers – people who target your computer / network in order to gain access and cause disruption.
Why didn’t my anti virus /security software pick it up?
You probably gave the software permission to run which means your security program won’t necessarily check the file. By clicking accept or run on pop ups and software installations you may be giving the malicious software ‘permission’ to install and run.
Day Zero – when a new virus is created there is always a time gap between the virus being ‘released’ and the anti virus companies working out how to defend against it.
How do I minimise the risk of getting a virus?
As a support service provider Evolve will make regular checks on your systems at school or in your office. Centrally managed anti virus and professional broadband solutions are part of the security service and procedures / policies are regularly reviewed. There are however extra checks that you can do to double check that things are working as they should.
Is my anti virus / firewall working and upto date? Without updates your protection software won’t know what the latest viruses ‘look like’ and therefore will be able to offer little or no protection against them. A quick way to check if your protection software is up to date using Windows is by looking for its icon near the clock on your taskbar – most products will have their own icon in the ‘system tray’ and either by just looking or hovering over it you can quickly check if your protection software is out of date. Or if in doubt ask your IT support to check.
Is my computer up to date? Windows, Apple, Android whatever type of operating system your device runs the manufacturer will periodically release updates – these can be to fix minor faults or security flaws – it’s always best to install updates regularly to take full advantage of these fixes.
Email Based Attacks:
Is the sender Genuine? Am I expecting an email with attachment from this person?
Check the email address not just the display name.
What type of attachment is it? pdf, doc, xls, ppt, jpeg are very common – general office files and photos should be fine. If the document asks about running macros always click no until you’ve checked with the sender or your IT Support.
.zip files should be treated with extra care, sometime genuine files are ‘zipped’ together to make them smaller. Others can be self-extracting which are the dangerous ones – again best to check with the sender or you IT Technician. Never open .EXE files.
If in doubt ask an IT Expert before opening any attachments.
Web Based Attacks:
Free downloads: generally best to avoid – if a website offers ‘free’ music, posters, classroom resources etc then you need to ask some serious questions about how they make their money. Some will genuinely make money through advertising; other will distribute malicious software.
Ask questions – I’m trying to download a PDF Poster to display in my office – why do I need to run something in order to download it? Have I used this website before without problems? How did I discover this website, was it word of mouth or buried in search results?
Hackers & File Sharing:
Generally protection against hackers is provided by your IT Support & Broadband provider. This is offered in the form of firewall and other solution such as secure VPN for remote access.
USB Drives & File Sharing:
Most anti virus programs offer a scan on demand feature which means by right clicking a file or removable drive before you access it you anti virus software can perform a full scan, the better anti virus packages will do this by default when a new device or file is connected / access to the computer. Please ask your IT Support for more information.
Thanks for reading.
We hope that you have found this article useful and that it helps you and your organisation prevent potential virus outbreaks.
Remember – We’re here to KEEP YOU CONNECTED, please ask if you need any help or advice.