Why antivirus practices should never be allowed to stagnate
Why antivirus practices should never be allowed to stagnate
Any individual or company is at risk of a cyber-attack and without the right protection in place, any computer or device can be vulnerable to security violations - particularly as those levelling the threats use new technology to enhance their methods of infection.

Consequently your antivirus practices should never stagnate and the protection you have in place, should be reviewed regularly.

Attackers will always want your data

The nature of digital technology means that someone will always be trying to obtain data they don't own to benefit from it. This can be anything from bank details to commit fraud, to stealing confidential business information and ideas.

Often compromised machines need to be wiped to stop the threat of viruses. This causes unnecessary downtime for professionals so a proactive approach including data back-ups are necessary so that you are prepared should the worst happen.

The main methods of attack are by hackers distributing ransomware, malware and trojans to compromise computers and make users unsuspecting victims. The best response is to employ a layered defence of protection including internet software security.

There is no single option that's going to protect you 100 percent. A good defence relies on different hardware and software all doing their bit, as with any type of layers the foundation is the key part, and this industry is no different.

The changing landscape of threats

Even with a layered defence in place, it cannot be left to stagnate as the nature of threats will change over time and older defences may not be designed to combat new attacks.

In an ideal world the end user is knowledgeable on current threats, in a position to check each and every link and able to anticipate the attackers methods. In reality we are far from that. Antivirus (AV) software is where the help comes from and it forms the very foundation of keeping the user safe. 

It will check each and every file opened, it can check and interrogate internet traffic alerting or dealing with threats as they find them, but like most software it needs nurturing or attention to keep it ongoing. It needs to be kept up to date with the current attack methods, it needs to know how to combat each attack vector and ideally do this all without user intervention.

Therefore, it is essential to understand your current set-up and update to the latest versions as necessary. This is the best way to feel confident your data is protected online. This should be combined with user training in the software (some dashboards give advanced access), hardware and industry knowledge.

Layered protection

Virus protection really is an ever changing battleground and an organisation needs to be armed with the right tools to be adequately secured. Always instal the latest updates, in addition to running the latest broadband firmware on routers, avoiding unsecured public WiFi and using secure passwords incorporating numbers, letters, caps and symbols.

Firewalls are also essential for commercial and residential computers, as is spam filtering. These can be accessed as part of security suites, or by an IT support service that will also provide 24/7 monitoring to neutralise attacks as quickly as possible.

A recent reminder of computer vulnerability came in the form of the security flaws dubbed Meltdown and Spectre, affecting most computers and smartphones from the last 20 years. The flaws meant that attackers could access passwords and business-critical documents via the memory in a processor.

If you suspect your anti-virus protection and cyber-security is lacking, take action as soon as possible to avoid the worst case scenario of having data and machines compromised, in addition to having money stolen. Software and the supplemental practices around security can be cost-effective and if you have data worth stealing, you can't afford to leave it unprotected.

Contributed by Julian Shelley, director, Woodstock IT

*Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of SC Media UK or Haymarket Media.