Computer viruses are like ants in Florida. They’re everywhere, and if you don’t use the right preventions sooner or later they’ll invade your space. Viruses and other cyber threats are constantly evolving with technology. Meaning if we don’t update this software regularly as it comes viruses that have evolved to get around the old software will have a way to get into to your computer. Once that happens all of your data is in danger, not to mention the dangers that could trickle to your contacts.
Firewall- (noun) A part of a computer system designed to block unauthorized access
Your firewall is no different. In order to prevent viruses and unauthorized networks from accessing your information it needs to be a step ahead of the viruses that are trying to break through. Forming a barrier between trusted networks and the internet which contains untrusted networks it works to protect your data as you go about your business. Think of it as a filter, making sure you’re safe from the dangers of wandering the internet.
Antivirus- (adjective) Software designed to detect and destroy computer viruses
Would you feel comfortable living in a house with nothing to prevent intruders except a standard locked door? No deadbolt, no alarm system, no chain, just an itty bitty lock. That answer is probably no. You don’t trust that tiny lock to protect you (and your family), so why should you trust just a firewall or antivirus software to protect your sensitive information?
Your firewall acts as a wall keeping threats out and away from your documents and information. Sometimes a virus can slip by when you click a bad link or travel to an unsafe site, once this malicious software is in your firewall can’t do much about it. That’s when your antivirus scans your computer to find the virus where it is hiding and obliterate it!
Ransomware-(noun) A type of virus that takes your files hostage
A virus that is gathering recognition is CryptoWall, which takes all of your data and encrypts it so if you don’t pay their demanded ransom you lose all access to it. With an antivirus and malware scanner you can detect these threats before they can take all of your files. Ransomware is particularly dangerous because if you choose to not pay their ransom, even with the help of a tech company you have a high risk of losing all of your files.
Phishing- (noun) The fraudulent practice of sending emails pretending to be a reputable company in order to acquire personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers.
Everyone gets emails. You sign up for alerts from your bank, e-bills, promotions at your favorite stores, coupons, and work emails. You probably don’t think twice when someone sends you a link because you recognize them. That means it’s safe, right? Wrong, hackers are more than capable of mimicking your friend Lauren or your bank to send you malicious emails bent on wreaking havoc on your life. It could be a link, an email from a friend or relative urgently needing you to wire them money, or your boss telling you to buy something and have it shipped to a specific location immediately. Before you click that link, mouse over it to see if it is going to the right place, then copy it to your browser.
So how does one protect themselves from this kind of attack? Hackers are not known for their spelling. Shocking, I know. Reputable companies have teams of editors that make sure everything is perfect before it is sent out, if you get an email from your bank and see a typo chances are its fake. Make sure if it is a company you are involved with you go to their website get a phone number and give them a call. Do not use the information provided in the email.
Unfortunately, email is not the only way these scams can hit their marks. You could also fall victim of a phishing phone call where they pretend to be your bank or cable company in order to get your information. The best prevention is to be wary off all phone calls, popups, and links. Check to see if they are really who they claim to be, and make sure to report it if they are not. Microsoft has a great page going over the proper procedure that you can read here.
Most importantly, if your business has a company they rely on for IT services or internet security, communicate with them before you make any changes, install any new software or activate/deactivate features of your firewall. A lot of these software solutions must be configured to work together, and while complete protection is important, more is not always better. For example, multiple antivirus solutions running on the same machine will not only slow your computer down, but they'll make each other less effective if not completely useless.