Thanks to the ongoing advancement in technology, the world is more connected than ever. From the various mobile devices such as Laptops, Tablets, Smart Phones, Digital Cameras, and In-Car Wi-Fi to the Desktops, Workstations and Servers we utilize both at home and in our places of business.
Hundreds of new viruses are written and released every day. Unfortunately, there is no 100% bulletproof remedy for any network. Although Antivirus applications, Firewalls and other security appliances will significantly help protect your network, it also comes down to Education, Behavior and Awareness to make a significant impact in protecting the infrastructure.
Anyone that uses a computer or device on a corporate network is also responsible for helping to maintain a secure environment.
What do all these devices have in common?
-Many of these devices are in an, “always on & always connected” state and without adequate protection and proper safety practices, these devices are in an elevated state of vulnerability.
-They’re a potential breeding ground for Viruses, Malware, Ransomware and other malicious attacks.
What is a Virus?
-A virus is a small program, application or script, that contains malicious code used without permission to self-replicate across your machine, modify data and therefore “infect” a given device. Due to this self-replication, a virus can spread rapidly infecting hundreds to thousands of files in a matter of seconds.
-One example of a virus is also classified as Ransomware. Once a machine becomes infected with this highly advanced and sophisticated virus, all user data is encrypted, rendering said data completely unusable and unrecoverable unless a ransom is paid and decryption key is provided. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that paying the ransom will restore your data to a useable state and in most cases, the data is completely destroyed and the machine must be wiped and rebuilt.
What are Viruses capable of?
While not all viruses are created equal, some are certainly more damaging than others. Here are just a few characteristics of a virus:
– Corruption of data
– Complete loss of data
– Stealing of cached information, such as usernames, passwords, banking information, etc. (identity theft)
– Attach to your personal and/or corporate address book, to send spam
– Spread to other machines and devices on the network, also resulting in corruption or total loss of data
– Significant amount of downtime, resulting in productivity and profit loss
What happens if I become infected?
Depending on the severity of the infection, many machines can be cleaned and returned to a normal, working state, without the need to wipe and rebuild. This
process can take several minutes to several hours depending on the extent of the infection. For highly infected machines, where system files, registry entries and other
data has been modified, the machines must be restored to a factory state to ensure the infection has been completely removed.
This can also take several hours to complete, depending on the degree of recovery and additional software that needs to be installed, as well as additional
configuration including joining the machine to the network, installing printers, configuring email, etc.
In more severe cases where multiple machines, including Servers, are infected, the recovery process can take several hours, to an entire day. There are many
variables that come into play when rebuilding a workstation, compared to restoring a Server from backups, which ultimately contributes to the total recovery time.
It is important to note, that even a single machine becoming infected can significantly and negatively impact overall productivity and more importantly,
profitability for the company.
How do I avoid becoming infected?
These are the most important steps you can follow to minimize risk as well as ensure you and your company remain productive and profitable while minimizing
downtime and added cost:
– If you don’t recognize the sender, DO NOT open the email under any circumstance.
– If you receive an expected or unexpected email from someone you know containing an attachment that when opened you receive any sort of alert, error, warning or notification, do not acknowledge the alert or click any buttons.
– Example: A Microsoft Word or Excel document, that prompts you to “Enable Macros” –Do Not Enable-
– If you receive an email containing a link (in the body of the email) that you do not recognize or are not sure of, Do Not Click.
– If you receive an email with an attachment (Word, PDF, etc.) with a link embedded in that attachment, Do Not Click.
– If you receive an email with the subject line, “Invoice, USPS/UPS/FedEx Tracking Number, Order Number, Delivery Confirmation,” etc., Do Not Open.
– Only visit known, good websites that you are familiar with.
– Avoid at all costs, any form of Adult or Torrent websites. Accessing these sites will expose your machine and the network you’re on to viruses and other malicious tasks.
– If you’re redirected to a different website than you intend to visit, close your web browser immediately. For example: You’re trying to visit, “msn.com” and are redirected to, “bestshoppingdeals.com”. This is a sign either a false link was clicked, a web address was misspelled or your machine is infected.
– When typing an address into the address or search bar, double check your spelling. Many malicious sites are based on commonly misspelled domains and can lead you to a malicious website causing your machine to become infected.
– Example: You type, “youutbe.com” and meant to type, “youtube.com”
– If you receive a pop-up while surfing the internet, do not acknowledge or click on any part of the pop-up. Many times these will advise you to download a piece of software to, “fix errors on your PC for free”, or “scan for viruses”, or ask you to “click here to claim your prize”. These are all scams attempting to entice you into vising a malicious site or spending $29.99 for a software download that will only cause more harm to your PC and your wallet. This is also known as “Scare-ware”.
– To close out of a website or pop-up that you’re unfamiliar with, Right Click the Task Bar > select Task Manager > Select the Application or Programs Tab > Select Internet Explorer, Firefox or Google Chrome > Select End Task
– Do not download or install 3rd party applications without permission from management or assistance from your IT provider.
– This will ensure that both the site and software are legitimate prior to download or installation.
– Unfortunately, many application installers will have other applications “bundled or attached” to the installation. This causes unwanted applications like toolbars, coupon printers and similar, to be installed without permission. Many times there is an option to opt-out of the bundled application installs, however this option is often well hidden.
– Use a strong password containing a combination of lowercase, uppercase, numbers and special characters that are a minimum of 8 characters in length.
– Never use a password that contains identifiable information about you that could be easily guessed by someone you know. For example: “Mary_1976” or “896MarcySt” or “Password1234” or “P@ssw0rd”
– Bizco is a proponent of the website http://correcthorsebatterystaple.net which helps you generate secure passwords.
– Change your password every 90 days.
– Never use the same password for multiple accounts.
– Example: Domain login credentials, banking accounts, personal email, etc. If an attacker has the credentials to access one site or device, they will likely try these elsewhere as well.
– Never store any login credentials or account information (via Excel, Word or Notepad), on your local machine.
– If your machine becomes infected, this information is fair game.
– Social Engineering
– If you receive a phone call from someone posing as “Microsoft”, “Apple” or “Google” etc., do not, under any circumstance, provide any information or give them access to your machine. Hang up immediately! This is becoming more common and unfortunately, many have fallen victim to not only their machines becoming infected, but their wallets being a few hundred dollars lighter. These types of callers will use scare tactics to lure you into providing personal information and gaining access to your machine.
– If you receive a call from anyone other than your primary IT provider (Bizco), offering any type of technical support services, do not under any circumstance, provide any information or give them access to your machine.
For more information call 402-323-4888 or email directsales@Bizco.com
By: James Dedrickson, Remote Engineer, Bizco Technologies