So you are sitting in front of your computer to start another day and you start sifting through the heap of emails that await you. In the process of parsing through the seemingly endless stream of messages, you come across an email with a link to a website attached to it. The message on the email states, “Get more done with less time.” The message prompts you to click on the link below to discover these useful tips. Just after clicking the link, you try to move the mouse on your computer and you notice that the cursor does not move. Then you try keyboard commands to close down the
program to no avail. All of a sudden, you see the cursor start moving, without you having to move the mouse. The cursor is heading towards the folder on your computer desktop where you keep vital files about your company’s clients. This is, without a doubt, a scenario that gives many executives and information technology professionals many sleepless nights. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to minimize the chances of having a nightmare scenario like this playing out, and keeping your computer safe.
One of the first and most obvious steps to take is to ensure that your computers have anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed on them. There are some fundamentals to be mindful of regarding this basic step in protecting your computer environment. Anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are designed to keep an eye out for malware that has found its way on to your computers and eliminate them. Some anti-virus and anti-malware software is savvy enough to detect programs that have aspects of malware and prevent them from running on your computers. When finding the right protection for your environment, you want to be cautious that you do not get an anti-virus or anti-spyware system that takes up resources on your computers, causing sluggish performance. The other thing to be mindful about regarding these software programs is that they only protect against “known” threats; if a malware program is not on the definitions list of the anti-virus or anti-spyware software you have, it will not detect that malicious program. The lesson: Don’t put all of your cyber-security eggs in one cyber-security basket.
In your efforts to reduce your exposure to unwanted visitors in your computer environment, make a concerted effort to people proof your computer environment. One of the first things to stress to computer users in your office is to not click on links in emails from unknown parties. The enticement to click on a link on an email is an example of a “Trojan horse” attack; these types of attack require that the user take the steps to place the malware on the computer. Many of those links contain a malicious software program to run that allows an unwanted visitor to have access to your computer and everything in it. Allowing unknown and unscreened devices to interact with the computer can have the same effect as clicking on those email links; some thumb drives and smartphones can have malicious software on them that become active the moment that you plug them into a computer. Instituting a device control policy where your employees or colleagues have to get authorization before plugging a gadget or drive into the computer can eliminate one avenue available to hackers and their attempts to access your computers.
If hackers cannot trick your employees or colleagues into opening a door for them to get into your computer environment, they will see if you have left them an opening to hop on as a member of your wi-fi network. Many computers have the ability to detect nearby wi-fi routers in your area so that you can get connected to the internet; unfortunately, it is also a way to gain access to a network of computers. That also means gaining visibility to any financial transactions that may have been processed through the router. To ensure that your interactions on the internet and on your network are not available to unwanted visitors, installing a router with encryption protocols should be highly preferred. Encryption protocols for a router are those that require a user name and password to be entered in order to gain access to the network. If you find yourself in a situation where you have a wireless router that is not encrypted, there are few steps in this link from ZDNet that can make it harder for unwanted visitors to gain access to your network.
While it is an exciting time for the internet and the plethora of devices connected to it, the right amount of vigilance and carefulness can make the journey through the internet a little less scary. If you feel that you or people you know have been harmed by another party that has gained unwanted access to your computer, feel free to reach out the Law Offices of Michael Cordova so we can determine if there is anything that can be done.