Being in the business of IT and support, we get to see the trends with issues arising for our customers. Lately, there have been more attacks than normal relating to ransomware and malware.
I know you see a lot about this in current media, the dangers, what they can do to your computers and why they do it, but do you really know what to look out for? Do your team mates and staff have the same understanding? Being educated about what to look out for and what to do about it can make a big difference. Our job as IT consultants is to educate you on how to stay protected so we have included some important information below with links to blogs that go into more detail.
What is malicious software?
There are many names for malicious software but some have a different approach or way of working themselves into your computer. Here are some brief definitions:
Malware, short for malicious software, is an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software including computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, adware, and other intentionally harmful programs.
A computer virus is a type of malicious software program that, when executed, replicates itself by modifying other computer programs and inserting its own code. When this replication succeeds, the affected areas are then said to be "infected" with a computer virus.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that threatens to publish data or block access to it unless a ransom is paid.
Electronic spamming is the use of electronic messaging systems to send an unsolicited message (spam), especially advertising, as well as sending messages repeatedly on the same site. While the most widely recognized form of spam is email spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media: instant messaging spam, web search engine spam, junk fax transmissions and social spam.
A Trojan hides malware in what appears to be a normal file. Most Trojans are typically aimed at taking control of a computer, stealing data, and inserting malware. The name Trojan Horse is used due to it's similarities with the events surrounding the Siege of Troy.
Anyone can be a target
You may be thinking "This won't happen to me," but the reality is that it's becoming increasingly more common. It can begin from a simple mistake of opening an attachment in an email from a malicious source however, with better understanding and diligence on this issue, you can issue preventative, proactive actions and be able to implement recovery solutions in the even of your workplace falling victim to malware attacks. We urge you to ensure your staff understand what could be malicious.
There is no perfect solution to prevent malicious material, but there are preventive measures you can take.
Employing spam filtration technology to prevent spam from reaching your employees’ inboxes, as well as malware protection to stop any infections from being able to take hold, can reduce both the time lost to dismissing these messages and the cost of downtime, lost data or ransom demands.
Office 365 - It is important that, should your business be a target, any spam messages be detected before they even reach your network. With Office 365, most spam is deleted via connection filtering, which is based on the IP address of the sender. The service then inspects the contents of the message. By default, content-filtered spam is sent to the recipient’s Junk Email folder. This allows your business to receive all messages addressed to your domain name while giving staff an easy way to delete junk without trying to sift through legitimate messages.
Office 365 reduces the cost to your business by blocking the noise before it demands attention and helps protect employees from identity theft and fraud by clearly marking suspicious messages.
ThinkProtect - If a malicious message does manage to reach an inbox, which is the case with a well-crafted message and unknown origin, you should be able to identify and neutralise the threat. ThinkProtect’s Endpoint Security is a complete solution to protecting individual systems and business networks from malware infection. Attachments can look legitimate, many are disguised as invoices or shipping notifications. In the event a malicious attachment is executed, the security software will compare the program against their constantly-updated threat database. If it matches, it is immediately quarantined and the end user and Think Concepts are notified.
We've all heard about updating your operating system, installing antivirus and avoiding suspicious files. These methods can help but do not guarantee safety and are not a contingency plan. The real question to ask yourself is "What would I do if I do get attacked?". None of these methods will help you retrieve your data.
A contingency plan is designed to take future events or circumstances into account. For Ransomware it is to keep multiple copies of your data. Having a good method for data backup is crucial. An approach we suggest is utilising multi-version backup so in the event where one version gets locked, you can still retrieve an older version. While we highly recommend Synology as a solution for this, it's important that we first assess your data environment as every site and situation is different. We have solutions up our sleeve for any situation, from small business two user sites to larger multinational firms.
Having a complete backup solution means that irreplaceable data is always available. Think Concepts recommends using Synology network storage devices to maintain reliable, easy-to-manage access to your company documents, in conjunction with Dropbox, a real-time file synchronisation service that keeps a copy of your data off-site, along with version history, should infection, hardware failure or a natural disaster take your local copy offline. In addition to protection, Dropbox also makes it possible to securely access your files from anywhere on the Internet, so you can work from home or share specific documents with your contacts.
With a sufficient prevention, protection and recovery solution in place, your business should never have to comply with the demands of a malicious actor.
Not sure where to go from here?
That’s where we come in! When you ask Think Concepts to audit and supply your data network, we do so with security and reliability as the top priority. Our team of talented and passionate technicians already deal with mission-critical data for dozens of businesses across New Zealand, large and small, we know what's involved.
Talk to us about securing your critical data. We can make recommendations for your company based on its requirements for data storage and network security.
- Cold backups, so there's a copy physically isolated from the network should the worst happen.
- Off-site storage to prevent natural disasters from claiming everything you've worked for.
- Securing network ingress points such as wall-ports, wireless access points and remote access servers.