How to defend your system against malware

Friday 15 March 2013

Malicious software - commonly referred to as malware - is a growing problem for both business and home computer users. As more business is conducted online, exposure to malware is increasing - particularly where users do not take sensible precautions.

Businesses need to use technology to guard their systems against online threats, but also ensure employees understand how to use the internet safely. Companies can build up their malware defences in a number of ways:

Using anti-virus and anti-spyware solutions

These should be purchased from a reputable industry source, one that is trusted and readily contactable at all times. Microsoft Security Essentials offers free real-time protection against malicious software for personal computers, while a number of approved Microsoft partners also offer anti-malware solutions.

Turn your firewall on, and keep it on

The firewall has an important role to play as a defensive barrier between your computer and the internet. Switching it off even for a short period of time significantly increases the risks of being exposed to malware.

Update software at regular intervals

In the cloud age, new software updates are constantly becoming available and are free to download for licenced users. If an update becomes available, it is important to download it. Many updates are released to counter emerging security threats, meaning that failing to download them could leave systems and networks exposed. As such, it is good practice to either download updates automatically or check for new releases on a regular basis.

Approach downloads with caution

It always pays to be cautious when opening attachments, or clicking on links in emails or on social networks. Casting a suspicious eye first can help counter malware risks. In most instances, there will be no particular threat to your system but it is important to get into good habits. Users should only download software from trusted sites and vendors, and should be particularly wary of free offers - very commonly these turn out to be riddled with malware.

Create strong passwords

Choosing a simple, commonly-used password such as 'admin' or your name is as good as not having one at all. Should your PC be compromised, it will take the hacker no time at all to access your computer and confidential data. Choosing complex passwords - consisting of both numbers and letters - and ensuring there is no accessible written copy near your computer is advisable.

Posted by Alex Boardman