The term malware applies to software that has the goal of damaging or disabling your computer system. Because of this, having strong policies in place for malware detection and removal is crucial, as is taking steps to prevent malware. With the right practices in place, you can dramatically reduce the risk of malware harming your company’s technology.
Malware Detection and Removal Best Practices
Invest in the Right Malware Protection Software
Perhaps the simplest way to give your company a head start on malware detection and removal is to invest in malware protection software. This antivirus software should scan all files that you download at the minimum, whether from your email, a website, a USB drive, or another source. The program will ideally complete the scan before the download is done, so malware does not have a chance to get on your devices or network.
The software should also do regular scans of the network and devices used to check for malware. Set it up so that these scans run automatically at fixed intervals, so you do not need to rely on employees remembering to do so. Ideally, your malware protection software will be inclusive, also taking care of protection against spyware and more. Confirm the detection rates and what the software does with the malware it finds. Does it quarantine the files or remove them? Do not select software that does not take action of some sort.
Make it your company policy to quarantine any system that you suspect has malware. It is simple to undo a quarantine, but if the system is not connected to the network, it cannot do any damage. At the same time, quarantine anything like a USB drive or other removable media that is connected to the system. Unfortunately, you cannot even move files from the quarantined system since they may also be infected.
Train Employees on Email Best Practices
One of the many ways that malware can enter a computer is when an unsuspecting person opens an email from an unknown sender. In this case, malware will typically come via an attachment or a link, but there are also other possibilities. To avoid this method of accidentally receiving malware, ensure that all employees know not to open an email from someone they do not know. Additionally, caution them against clicking on a link or opening an attachment before confirming the sender. Remind employees that some hackers will spoof email addresses to make it appear as if the message comes from a trusted source.
Train on Browsing Best Practices As Well
An unsuspecting employee can accidentally download malware via a website as well. Train employees to pay attention to the websites they frequent and only download files from trusted pages. At the same time, you should provide a refresher on the importance of only entering login details and other personal information into a website after confirming it is the correct page.
Reduce the Area for Possible Attacks
You can significantly reduce your risks of malware and improve your ability to detect and remove it by reducing the number of potential points of infection. To do this, limit the number of devices connected to your network, the applications, and the actions these systems can perform. Do not connect a particular device or application unless it is necessary.
Limit Peer-to-Peer Sharing
While you may be aware of some of the more common avenues of potential malware attacks, many overlook the potential problems that arise with peer-to-peer sharing. Since many users on a network are not fully aware of the risks, they may inadvertently share malware along with other messages or documents they send to each other. The best way to get around this potential problem is to limit peer-to-peer sharing. Only allow it in certain situations or once specific precautions have been met, such as a malware scan. Be particularly cautious regarding peer-to-peer sharing that involves a company machine used off the network, such as in an employee’s home. In addition to sharing between a non-company and a company machine.
Speaking of potential avenues for malware to make its way onto your business’s devices, USB drivers, disks, and other input methods are also potential risks. Some cybercriminals will leave a USB with malware in a company’s public area in the hopes that an unsuspecting employee plugs it in to discover something about the owner and return it. In reality, as soon as the employee plugs in the device, it would install malware on his or her computer. You can avoid deliberate attacks like this as well as unintentional issues, such as an employee accidentally bringing a virus between computers via a USB, by disabling AutoPlay or Windows AutoRun. Instead of having the operating system automatically run the contents of the device, have it complete a scan then ask the user what to do.
Always Install Patches for Browser Plugins
As the awareness of malware sent via email has increased, attackers have moved their methods to include more attacks via web browsers. Because of this, you must always ensure that your browsers are up-to-date, including any plugins that you use. The developers behind your browser and the plugins constantly produce patches and updates to eliminate vulnerabilities that could give access to malware and other types of cyber attacks. If you do not install these patches, you are left vulnerable, to ensure that you have a policy in place to install them immediately.
Install All Other Patches As Well
Just because malware attacks now take advantage of browsers, this does not mean that traditional attack methods have stopped or that your operating system is no longer at risk. Any time your device’s operating system has a patch or update, install it immediately and include this in your official company policy. Do the same with any software you use, prioritizing the software used most frequently and the programs that hold sensitive data. If the operating system, software, browsers, and everything else are up to date, there is a reduced risk of malware making it onto your devices or network.
By following these malware detection and removal best practices, you will protect your privacy while enhancing your level of protection online.