In the last two days, we have seen an amazing increase in malicious spam attacking many inboxes. The most recent subjects are “ADP Payroll Invoice” and “UPS Confirmation.” Several people, thinking this was a legitimate email, opened it, and were immediately infected with a virus. This type of virus put the entire company’s network at risk.
Anyone who uses a computer connected to the Internet knows about the threats that computer hackers and predators pose. Online con artists and identity theft criminals are using spam, fake websites constructed to look identical to real sites, email and instant messages to trick you into divulging sensitive information, or they plant malware that can steal client information, record keystrokes, and more. Once you take the bait, the information can be used to ruin your entire network!
Here are some things you can do to prevent these cyber-criminals from infecting your computer with viruses, malware or spyware:
Keep current with Windows Updates: It’s important for you to keep your OS updated in order to minimize the possibility of having worms or viruses compromise your system. Our customers have a weekly scheduled update night. You should have one too.
Install Software Updates: Make sure to get the latest fixes or versions of your favorite applications (including Microsoft Office) in order to never let hackers find the opportunity to infect your network and computer. Make sure that your web browsers and other web-based programs are given good upgrades or patches.
Use a Good Anti-Virus Software: Running your machine without anti-virus software – especially if it’s regularly connected to the Internet – is downright suicidal. Get one as soon as you can, and always confirm if its virus definitions are regularly updated.
Run Anti-Spyware Software: Spyware remains to be a continuous threat to computer users everywhere.
Install a Firewall: If you don’t have a third-party firewall, then we highly recommend that you activate your Windows firewall (available on all Windows versions from XP and up). Firewalls help filter your traffic, and there are some products that even filter both incoming and outgoing data streams.
Don’t Open Spam Email: Unsolicited messages should never be opened, and that goes double for unsolicited messages with file attachments. These emails usually come with an attachment with a .zip extension. Best practice is not to open any attachments before you check with the sender to see if it is legitimate. When in doubt, just delete the message.
Regularly Perform a Data Backup: If you have critical data, work-related documents, or personal files, then you must back them up as often as possible, because you never know what will happen to your computer. From viruses to system crashes, these sensitive bits of information can be wiped clean from your hard drive in the blink of an eye, so it’s best to always have a backup at hand.
Avoid Hacker-Controlled Websites: Try to stick to work-related websites – avoid getting snared by questionable sites dedicated to free downloads, online games, and so on; this way, there are fewer chances for you to be hacked.
Initiate Password Policies: The passwords you pick could mean the difference between a breached computer and a safe computer. The most common recommendations when it comes to picking a password include not using the same password on every one of your accounts, using combinations of letters and numbers, and making sure that your password is as arcane as possible without necessarily making it too difficult for you to remember it. Never give out your password to anyone.
Be Cautious of Social Media Scams: Be wary of posts that offer a free iPad or some other offer. Trust the old adage “nothing in life is free,” and “if it is too good to be true, then it probably is.” Also know your friends on social media accounts; generally speaking know the type of people you that you follow and know their posting trends. If they post something out of the ordinary then don’t be fooled just ignore it.
Pay Attention to the Latest Virus/Spyware News: Read anti-virus websites and blogs to keep up to date on the latest viruses, malicious applications, and scams out to trap you. A great source for up-to-date news is from Sophos Labs Security athttp://nakedsecurity.sophos.com. You can also download their free Threatsaurus – The A-Z of Computer and Data Security Threats at http://www.sophos.com/en-us/security-news-trends/security-trends/threatsaurus.aspx
There is no way of completely protecting yourself from computer viruses but, if the above measures are taken, the likelihood of a virus infection on your network and computer will be greatly reduced.
If you have questions related to any of this information and you’re a Trouble Free partner, please contact your Technical Account Manager here at Tech II Business Services. If you are not sure of the level of service you have or what is covered by your contracts or you aren’t utilizing any services please contact me here at Tech II with any questions.Dan Bardin, Chief Operations Officer