Viruses and help to avoid them...

A computer virus is a generic term for different types of computer software designed for a number of different malicious purposes, causing damage to a computer system:- data loss, damage to computer software or computer hardware.

Virus software may be designed to replicate across computer systems, spreading from computer to computer, or may be focused on a single computing device to cause it to fail/malfunction or run additional programs/executables to cause further harm.

A computer virus will often be spread from online sources or received data such as an attachment in an email or a downloaded program with the virus inserted into it.

The viruses may look benign or harmless but once run on a computer system can do significant damage, even causing catastrophic damage requiring a full rebuild of a computer system, or destroying all data held on a device or accessible data on a network.

A virus may have the appearance of a popular piece of software such as a free game or application, but may also install malware, spyware, or adware, which may open a backdoor on a computer allowing an intruder to connect without your knowledge or consent.

A virus can be used as part of ransomware tactics to encrypt your data Forcing payment to release the encryption. Or could be used to redirect all searches and information to pre-populated sites to further infect the computer.

So how do viruses affect me?

As more and more businesses have increased their productivity by using high-speed Internet connections and cloud-based services, the footprint of devices online becomes larger and with that comes a greater risk of viruses.

Viruses have become the most of the most prolific and costly security issues facing small to medium-sized businesses.

Viruses will be used as a mechanism for the delivery of hacking tools, putting the security of your organization at risk.

The downtime for your company, as a result of data loss, can drastically influence your company's long-term success. If you are a smaller company, this could mean the difference between having a business and going bust.

Top tips:

  • Run Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware software on devices to check and quarantine viral threats to a computer system.
  • Use a properly configured firewall between your office systems and the Internet to reduce access to internal systems.
  • Restrict or block unauthorized devices from your work network.
  • Do not open ‘suspicious’ e-mails – especially those with attachments.
  • Do not install software from websites, unless from a certified and trusted vendor.
  • Look at Web filters and systems to protect against accidental access to malicious websites.
  • Have a clear IT policy for the acceptable use of business systems, websites, and email. Refer to this policy in employment contracts and provide training for procedures.

Remember that there is no magic bullet to online security and protection, a layered defense of software, physical firewalls, and a good understanding of the nature of the threats will reduce the chances of exposure and enhance the ability to mitigate the threat if it occurs.