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Anti-Malware for Businesses – Impact of Malware

 

We hear about the potential threats of malware all the time, but what could an infection mean for your business in real terms?

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Many of us have been there. We clicked “Yes” to something we should’ve clicked “No” on while clicking through a program installer, and installed something we didn’t want, like a Browser Toolbar (Commonly known as BHOs or Browser Helper Objects). Or perhaps we’ve installed something based on its claims, because it looked useful. On the surface these software programs claim to be helpful, but really inside most of them are there for one purpose – to make money. How they do this can vary, many of them will install some kind of spyware and change some browser preferences, like your default search engine, making it use their own. The changes made in a few seconds by a piece of rogue spyware or adware can take hours to put right by hand.

Unfortunately, user data is a very, very profitable commodity. These “tools” can store and send data about your computer and browsing habits, your searches, how long you spend on specific sites, even the links you click on. This data can be used by companies who then target you with spam mail or advertisements based on what they learn from you. Spyware collects the data, Adware displays the advertisements that come from it. As well as being something of an invasion of privacy, and causing unwanted popups, advertisements or spam mail, spyware and adware can cause your computer to slow to a crawl, as it drains system resources in order to collect and send data.

Often, people are tricked into installing two or three pieces of spyware or adware at once, and it goes without saying that the more junked up a computer becomes with these things, the slower and slower it runs, and the more problems you may face. In extreme cases, spyware and adware has been known to crash computers entirely or make them almost unusable. Adware and spyware doesn’t tend to spread unless it’s coupled with a virus, so most of these annoyances can be removed with time, patience and a good IT professional.

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  • Viruses, worms, trojans and keyloggers, however, have the potential to do much more serious and long term damage to your systems and possibly even your customers.

Some malicious software is programmed to cause as much destruction as possible to the systems it infects, for no other purpose than entertainment of the programmer or programming team. Some is designed to make companies aware of security flaws or to prove a vulnerability, while others are designed to steal data in order to make money in a much more direct fashion.

Data can be stolen, deleted, corrupted or otherwise rendered unusable by malware. When you’ve got a whole server full of critical or sensitive information, and a network of computers that access it, this can be very bad news.

Depending on the severity of the malware attacks, you could be forced to wipe your systems clean in order to get rid of the infection, or even replace parts of the system if enough damage is done. Left unchecked, infections can spread to backups you create from an infected network, meaning that you are then unable to use the backups of the data you have stored.

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  • All malware can lead to lost time, which means lost productivity and lost potential profits.

The best defences against malware are to keep your software up to date, (for example, using Windows Update or similar tools) and using a security suite that defends your network or individual computer from attack. There are also hardware defences against intrusion attempts, like firewalls, which we’ll discuss in a later series of blog posts.

If you suspect there may be malware on your computer, get in contact with an IT professional as soon as possible, particularly if you are worried about your business network. If you’re a home user, there’s a tool you can download called Malware Bytes, which is available free for home use. It helps detect and remove the offending malware, and we recommend running through a full scan. You can find it at http://www.malwarebytes.org/

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On Friday, in our final post of the week, we’ll be discussing the antivirus and antimalware software and support options we provide, and the advantages of each for different types of businesses.

If you’d like to talk to us about anything IT related, give us a call on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

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Posted on by Emily
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