Computer viruses, like human viruses, evolve into increasingly sophisticated threats. Take Meltdown and Spectre, for example. These bugs actually embed themselves in the computer's hardware (specifically, the processor) so they can “melt security boundaries which are normally enforced by the hardware” (The New York Times).
This year, as with Meltdown and Spectre, some of the worst malware we’ve seen are becoming even more complex:
1. Crypto-locker viruses seize data from servers and individual computers by encrypting your data, making it irretrievable until a ransom is paid, usually in the neighborhood of $500. After paying the ransom, we’ve found that data is decrypted and accessible again just 60% of the time.
2. Phishing scams trick you into giving away sensitive personal information. They often come in the form of an email that looks like it’s from someone you know, either a person or a company you do business with, and include some kind of link which is all-too-tempting to click. After asking for the user’s name and password, the scammers have everything they need to hack into your email and other applications—and the scam spreads.
3. Cryptojackers utilize your browser to mine cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin)—without you even knowing it. Essentially, your machine acts as a surrogate for this malicious network of hacking.
4. Malicious “scripts” can sneak into your web browser and steal saved passwords. These are not detected by antivirus programs or removed by traditional means.
Protecting your devices against these threats (and many others) takes a holistic approach much like protecting your body from infection. Never click something if you aren’t absolutely sure what it is. Even links and popups from websites you visit regularly should be read carefully before clicking, as sometimes it is the browser or webpage that has been “hacked”. Avoid reflex clicking.
A reputable business-grade antivirus is imperative to protect against known threats. We offer endpoint business-grade protection for small businesses that are serious about protecting the sensitive data and user accounts on their machines. We also offer yearly licenses for home users. Contact us about virus removal and installing the best antivirus software for your machines.
Like the flu shot for humans, a good antivirus protects your machine from known threats. Without it, your devices are vulnerable to catastrophic malware. Also like the flu shot, as malware evolves, the antivirus must evolve too. This creates a continual virus-then-vaccine effect, as antivirus manufacturers come out with solutions to the latest threats.
“With more malware scanners on the alert, hackers will start to evolve the technology to make it subtler and more difficult to find” (Wired).
In addition to a reputable antivirus, good user practices must be used in combination.
- Never click something without reading it carefully first.
- Never give your email username and password.
- Use two-way authentication for your email, banking, and social media accounts.
- Never believe someone who calls you from “Microsoft” saying there is a problem with your computer and they need access to fix it. This is a common scam.
- Have a backup method in place and well-documented instructions for retrieving that backup should the worst happen. Check backups regularly and perform test restores at least once a year.
- Worried that your employees have poor online practices? Have a security professional conduct an in-person training session for your team.
If you’re concerned your small business isn’t ready to defend against the latest security threats including ransomware, loss of data, and other malicious activity, contact us to schedule a security consultation.
To learn more about cryptocurrency mining, check out this article from King Passive.