IT security 101: anti-virus and web protection

Last month, we talked about the importance of firewalls and how they add valuable security to your IT network. Comparing your business to a castle, we explored the idea of a firewall as a moat – reducing the number of attackers that make it onto your castle grounds.

In keeping with this metaphor, this month we want to explore additional layers of security that help keep your greatest asset (your data) safe.

Most people are well aware of the benefits of anti-virus for their computer or devices. This clever software aims to prevent viruses from penetrating your system that can:

  • Steal personal information
  • Stop your computer from working
  • Lock you out of your own data
  • Force you to pay money to have it released

But how does anti-virus software really work? And how do you know which anti-virus software to choose?

Here’s our low-down on anti-virus and web protection…

What is anti-virus and web protection?

If you imagine your business castle, anti-virus and web protection are the soldiers that stand on the castle walls ready and waiting with their arrows pointed.

They aim to take out any offender identified as foreign and threatening to the ecosystem, protecting everyone in the castle (your data) from danger.

How does anti-virus and web protection work?

If a literal virus were to plague humanity tomorrow, scientists would work round the clock to understand how the virus works so they can develop a vaccine.

Technology viruses are essentially no different. When hackers create a new virus, security software companies such as Norton, McAfee, Symantec, and so on work tirelessly to understand how these viruses operate.

Once they understand them, they can define the parameters needed to identify and block them. For example, if a virus does X then Y then Z, it is a Trojan. With these parameters defined, your computer will quickly pick up on a Trojan’s attempt to get into the system and quarantine it.

Web protection works in a similar way. If a website attempts to run a command or execution that has been identified as risky, the web protection software jumps in and marks it as malware. This stops you from clicking through to the website and unknowingly downloading a virus.

Viruses on websites can happen if the website has been compromised by hackers (unknown to the company that owns it), or if the hackers have intentionally created a fake domain for when people accidentally type in the wrong URL.

How do I choose the best anti-virus?

If you are a home user, a standard subscription to a reputable anti-virus software product should be sufficient, such as:

  • Bitdefender
  • Norton anti-virus
  • Kaspersky anti-virus
  • ESET anti-virus
  • Webroot anti-virus

At Empreus IT, we recommend Bitdefendor as we have found them to be good value for money and superior to other anti-virus products. If you run a company, enterprise anti-virus software will give you faster updates and more support, and occasionally offer cyber security insurance with your subscription.

The reason we do not advise our clients to use free anti-virus software is because they often do not update as regularly as paid software. This means you may be protected from viruses that were current 2 years ago – not viruses that are a risk to you today.

When you do pay for an anti-virus subscription and install it, you need to ensure “automatic updates” are turned on so that it constantly updates with the latest measures to combat the latest threats.

That being said however, new viruses come out every single day. So you should always exercise a high level of caution when clicking links in emails, visiting unknown websites, or downloading files.

Staying on top of computer viruses and malware

As your outsourced IT department, Empreus IT offers a valuable Managed IT Service to keep your company and its data better protected.

We consult to help you choose the right level of anti-virus software, install it onto every device (and server if applicable), and then monitor it 24/7 to ensure it is up to date and working efficiently. If the system flags a virus, we are straight onto it – finding out what has happened, making sure it is quarantined, and helping you implement measures so that it doesn’t happen again (such as better staff training on the dangers of unsolicited emails).

To order your own private security advisor who will walk the grounds of your castle 24/7, call Empreus IT on (02) 6189 1322 or contact us now.