Are You Protected By Your Antivirus Software?
The answer is no. Antivirus applications may take down weak threats, but with sophisticated technology comes sophisticated hackers.
As technology continues to evolve, there are additional protection measures you need to take to ensure the safety of you and your company’s information. (Psst! That's exactly why we offer a free assessment of your network! Schedule your assessment today to check the health and security of your network.)
Antivirus software used to be an extremely effective way to protect against malware or viral code intended to harm your computer. These programs had an easy job at first. There were only a handful of malicious software threats to deal with. Programs were able to find, block and remedy the issues effortlessly.
The software would compare the websites users visited with a list of known malicious threats. Through this examination, the application was able to target threats by identifying dangerous sites and preemptively sweeping for that code. That's all changed.
Antivirus Software Under Siege
Hackers responded by altering their viral code to bypass the signature files the antivirus software knew to check for.
Antivirus software companies responded to this by frequently updating their master list of viral threats and dangerous websites. A cycle formed where hackers rapidly created viral code and antivirus software needed to add the code to the signature list it would use to examine websites. This process continued until the number of malicious software files vastly outgrew the ability of the antivirus application to update the signature files.
After this process became outdated, antivirus programmers developed a new way to detect viral code. The second phase in the battle was heuristics. This experimental method was created to make generic comparisons of malware against previously detected code from the signature file. This method improved the response times to blocking unwanted software. However, the modern hacker is cunning and found ways to circumvent the heuristic process as well.
There’s Good News on the Horizon
Now to the good news. There are emerging technologies that use contemporary virtualization techniques to allow for safe extermination of unknown software. These tools allow end users to freely click without dangerous consequences caused by malware.
Are you protected from malware? Find out with a free 30-minute network assessment by our network engineers.
These new technologies take a different approach to antivirus practice. The unknown code is run seamlessly but safely with no access to the host operating system. In order to do this, the program creates a temporary environment that has no access to the internal computer information. If the code is detected as viral or malicious, it will immediately be moved to the temporary environment. If the code is legitimate, it will run as expected and cause no trouble for the end user or IT department.
A common workplace fix is the ability to host internet browsing in an external location. Companies can have their IT department proxy all internet traffic through a remote, virtual environment to reduce risk of attack. This service separates the dangerous browsing that employees may take part in, described in our recent blog post, and your essential servers or workstations.
Four Best Practices for Protecting Your Computer Network
No matter what solution you use to protect your technology, it’s always best to start with these basic best practices:
- User permissions. Users on your network should only have access to the systems and information specific to their role in the organization.
- Dynamic passwords. Users' passwords should be too complex to bypass, yet memorable to the user.
- Frequent backups. A comprehensive backup of all important data ensures that your information can be recovered in case of disaster. Here's how to get smart about data disasters.
- Employee training. Simple ongoing training should be provided to employees in order to handle questionable email, pop-ups and error messages. We tried to trick our own employees with a tempting link to test their level of skepticism of unfamiliar email senders. Here's what happened.
The threat landscape is going to continue to change as the internet evolves. Relying on antivirus software is no longer the answer. Following these basic best practices will go a long way in protecting your technology against hazardous malware.
Gross Mendelsohn’s Technology Solution Group can help you protect your network by educating your employees on the importance of being vigilant when clicking links and attachments in emails.
About Bill Walter
Bill, our lead networking guru, loves showing clients how technology can be worked into their existing processes to improve efficiency and security. His expertise includes cyber security, high level planning for internal and external networks, , and hands-on installation and configuration of networks. He helps organizations of all types and sizes implement cyber security best practices to protect sensitive data. Normally a pretty easygoing guy, Bill thinks there should be a law against wearing a Bluetooth headset when it’s not in use.