You have a firewall? Yes! You have anti-virus software? Tick! Do you also have an anti-spam email solution? Yes I do! You should be fully protected then right? Wrong! If only that was the case.
Unfortunately these days it’s not as simple or clear-cut as that. Many businesses have been attacked or compromised over recent years despite having all these in place. Some attacks come from exploits in Windows that Microsoft aren’t aware of or you haven’t yet patched – an important reason to always ensure you regularly apply any security patches for your operating system and application software. Also a good reason to ensure you’re no longer running Windows XP on that old PC you tucked behind a desk years ago.
Other attacks come from email attachments that people have opened. You know the ones – “Outstanding Invoice Due” or “Missed Parcel Delivery”. Gone are the days when the emails were written with poor English and spelling mistakes. Often they look very authentic, appear to have come from the correct email address and are correctly branded. Unfortunately these emails can often carry a very nasty sting: when you click on the link or open up the attachment, your PC will be infected with malware. This could either be a key-logger, sending all your keyboard entries back to a remote server somewhere and therefore capturing any sensitive data such as usernames and passwords, or a virus that encrypts any documents you have access to on your PC and the rest of the network. See our other blog post about that: How to protect against Cryptowall malware
So what can be done then?
Firstly, you need to ensure that your firewall is up to the job. It should be able to monitor each and every bit of data that passes through it and stop any attempted intrusion. It should also be able to block people being able to access certain web sites and categories. For instance, there’s often very little business reason for employee’s to be able to see hacking and security web sites. Nor web sites that are known to be malicious or used by known spammers. Once you’ve stopped people being able to browse or open attachments linked to dodgy websites you can look to prevent those attachments from getting to you in the first place. This can be done by filtering any email through a dedicated anti-spam provider before it gets to you – see our blog post on Mimecast for more information. The firewall can also act as a second opinion virus scanner here as it should also be able to intercept and delete any malware attachments that pass through it.
Some firewalls – such as the WatchGuard firewalls we recommend – are also intelligent enough to know when someone or something is sending credit card information externally to the Internet and block it – or alert you to it. Look out for a further blog post at some point on this.
Finally, to use the analogy of your home: it’s no good simply protecting the front door (your firewall) and having your mail opened and checked by the postman before it’s delivered to you (your email). You also need to know when anyone already inside is up to no good. This is where an audit is useful as we can assess your network, systems, servers and firewall and ensure your internal IT is as secure as can be. Our auditing services are explained in further detail here. Anti-virus software such as Webroot or Bitdefender is also neccesary to run on all your machines.
Let’s hope 2017 is the year malware infections start to decrease.
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