Antivirus software is no longer the answer, so what is?

Antivirus software is no longer the answer, so what is?

When Windows XP had enough service packs to be stable, and installing a good antivirus product on your PC was enough to keep your PC and data safe, there was a quiet spot in IT support. If systems were set up well there was not a lot of work to do to keep them running well.

Clearly, I am talking in relative terms as computers rarely remain in a stable state without effort being applied. From my engineering days I have the second law of thermodynamics to remind me about entropy and that without the application of energy all systems will deteriorate to chaos. Today we are seeing more stability in hardware and more stability in operating systems, but we are seeing a lot of disruption from the application of negative energy to our IT systems.

When Brian Dye of Symantec told the Wall Street Journal that antivirus “is dead” he was suggesting that we can no longer protect against the rate and type of threats being delivered.

This is quite alarming news for all users of PCs as it is a strong reminder that we are not safe now that we are connected to the world wide web of deception. With an innocent click, we can invite malicious code to wreak havoc not just on our PCs but the internal systems of the business we work in. Viruses, Trojans, crypto-lockers and other malicious code is being used against us more than ever before. The tools to protect us are not currently keeping pace with the threats.

At Combo this is driving our work load up and is impacting our clients’ data. If you have not suffered an attack of some sort yet, either you have and did not notice or you will soon.

Clearly, we are not going back to paper and fax. So what is the answer in this world where technology is an integrated part of our business systems?

1. The first and last line of defence is backup!

If you keep a recent copy of your data off line then total destruction of your working environment is a setback not a disaster! We suggest hourly backups in the cloud era.

2. Filter everything you can on the way into your network

Keeping the attacks out with a strong firewall, web filtering and email filtering before it reaches you will make a big difference to the number of threats you are susceptible to. Keep the technology up to date to ensure best results. Security devices are not set and forget like they used to be.

3. Keep your versions of code up to date

Keep your BIOS, operating system, applications and your antivirus software up to date to be less susceptible to attacks. Definitely no Windows XP or 2003 Servers or six-year-old PCs without BIOS updates if you want to stay safe.

4. Turn PCs off when you are not using them

If it only saves a little power and extends the life of moving parts by 50%, OK. If it reduces the time a hacker has access to find your system, even better. There is no point leaving it on overnight to warm the desk.

5. Learn about unsafe clicks

  • Web buttons on unsafe sites can execute malicious code, so avoid sites you are sent to.
  • Links in email can also send you to web sites with malicious code avoid clicking on links, check where they will send you before clicking.
  • Do not offer your personal details in any forms unless it is a trusted business and a secure site.
  • If you are made a generous offer remember nothing is free on the internet. If it looks too good to be true, it is not true. The more you have won the more it will cost you.

If you are unsure about the security of your business systems or need better backup or filtering seek advice before it is too late: 80% of businesses that suffer severe data loss go out of business within two years.

David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that is known for solving business problems with IT. How can we help?

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