With a few basic preventative steps, you can reduce the likelihood of a malware infection on your computer network. In order to increase your chances of detecting and removing a malware infection, use an antivirus program as part of your prevention. Look for a broader security program that includes antivirus and has an additional set of features that enhance the malware protection capability. Generally, these will be found in the paid and/or premium versions of antivirus programs. These programs usually include:
- always on, active malware protection
- web browser protection that protects you while you visit websites
- a software firewall
In order to provide additional protection against a malware event in the future, also use a hardware firewall. A hardware firewall is a physical device which sits on your network and is essentially the gatekeeper for traffic to and from the internet. It has advanced security features that differentiate it from your typical consumer-grade router, which generally provide only minimal protection. Some of the leading brands of hardware firewalls include Cisco, Sonicwall, and Fortinet, but there are many others.
For more tips and tricks on protecting your computer from malware, contact us.
While the major antivirus software packages generally do a good job of catching malware, antivirus tools may not always find the malware that may be on your computer system. The process of removing a malware infection is specific to the malware variant just like you can’t cure gingivitis with cold medicine. Ransomware, one of the most destructive types of malware, will try to encrypt all of your files. Files encrypted by ransomware can be difficult or impossible to recover.
Ransomware requires a payment to the hacker for the decryption key, if you are to decrypt your files directly. For safety reasons, always use a backup to restore your original files rather than pay the ransom. By paying the ransom, you benefit the hacker ecosystem and it may lead to more and possibly better malware attacks in the future. Moreover, emboldened hackers may demand a higher ransom the next time they strike. To minimize the need to pay a ransom, make sure that you have a backup system in place, with regularly scheduled verification that the backups are successful and include storing a copy of your data offsite.
If your computer is infected with spyware or other types of less destructive malware, a malware cleanup tool may be able to remove the infection. A commonly used malware cleanup tool is Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes provides a free version that allows you to run a manual malware scan on your system. They also offer a premium, paid version with real-time malware protection and additional security features. However, many types of modern malware are equipped with advanced protective mechanisms that render malware removal tools ineffective. In many cases, you’ll need to consult a professional to remove the malware from your system.
User awareness is critical to prevention
Beyond installing and configuring protective technology, there are steps that you can take to dramatically decrease the probability of a malware infection. For starters, don’t open files or click links that you were not expecting, even supposedly from people that you know. If you’re not sure why a person has sent a file or link to you, don’t open the file or click the link, call the person. Make sure the file or link is legitimate so you don’t end up with malware on your system and have to deal with malware cleanup.
Part of preventing issues is being smarter about your email and web browsing habits. Website, email, and computer user awareness is important. If you need extra help on protecting your computer network, contact us today for an estimate!