Cybercrime and Malicious Software – the Constant Threat

Another week and another warning about cybercrime and malicious software. This time the media said we had two weeks to ensure our systems are secure before all hell breaks loose.

Although most of the warnings we receive are correct, there is a risk that they are becoming so frequent that people will start to ignore them. This is particularly true when computer users hear the warning then don’t experience a problem.

Malicious software isn’t only targeting Windows based PCs. Apple computers, Android devices and Linux systems are also at risk.

In case you are tempted to ignore the warnings and put it all down to media hype, you should be aware of what malicious software can do. Most computers will hold some sort of personal or sensitive data. Whether it is a computer at work with confidential information or a home computer with bank passwords and private contacts, there is plenty of data that it better kept private. If malicious software accesses this data and sends it to people who can make use of it, the consequences can be costly. Other malicious software simply encrypts your computer and asks for a payment to enable you to gain access to it. This can also be very costly.

To prevent yourself becoming a victim of malicious software, you need your systems to be secured and most importantly, you need to remain vigilant.

Ensure you are running a reliable, up-to-date anti-virus software that has been properly configured. Installing anti-virus software is obviously vital, but if it has not been set up correctly, it could either be less effective than it should be or slowing your systems down too much.

Additionally, computers can be set up to limit the possibility that malicious software is able to simply install itself without the user being aware. To protect against unauthorised access to a network or computer, firewalls should be installed and set up to meet your company’s security policy.

Finally, all users have a responsibility to use the internet and emails with caution. Whenever you receive an email with a link in it or an attachment, never click on the link or open the attachment unless you are 100% sure they are legitimate. An email offering money from someone you have never heard of, obviously needs to be sent straight to deleted items, but be careful of emails that appear to be from someone you trust. Email addresses can be ‘spoofed’, so if a friend sends you an attachment that doesn’t appear quite right – don’t open it.

We certainly don’t want to scaremonger, but don’t believe that cybercrime only happens to others. If you need more information or help securing your IT systems, please contact us.