May 14, 2021 (Lubbock, Texas)
The practice of personal safety is pretty common for most of us. We lock the doors to our homes, our cars, and we watch our properties and our neighborhoods for suspicious activity. We teach our children common safety practices, such as “stranger danger” and “stop drop and roll.” But what about the unseen threats that are lurking out on the internet, just waiting for a chance to infiltrate your desktop, laptop, cell phone and other internet-enabled devices?
The first line of defense is obvious – use virus protection software, and keep it updated. This is a no-brainer! There are several great options available for your desktop and laptop computers. Purchasing these packages generally allows you to protect not only your computer, but also your tablet and cell phone.
What else can the average electronics user do to prevent virus, malware, and even ransomware from infecting devices? The same way that you use safe practices to prevent viruses and bacteria from infecting you, and your loved ones. It’s about being careful about what you touch, and allow to touch your computer operating system.
Here are the typical sources of these often-disastrous infections:
Removable media – Which is anything from CD’s and DVD’s to USB (thumb) drives, and SD cards. If you don’t know and trust where they came from, don’t put them into your device – easy! What if you’re not sure what’s on one of these devices and want to know? Use a machine that isn’t connected to the internet and doesn’t have any important files stored on the test machine to check the media contents. Make sure that the machine has virus protection installed and up to date. Use virus software to run a scan on the media device. If the files are recognized items that you need and are cleared by the virus protection protocol, you should be fine to open them on your regular computer.
Internet Downloads – You may not even realize you’re downloading something from the internet! Sometimes, the fun games and quizzes that you see on social media are a hacker’s delight. You will typically agree to expose all of your contacts in exchange for playing the game, which allows hackers to send not only you, but all of your friends and families either fraudulent messages, or links that promise more fun and games that actually install viruses or malware onto your machine. Be wary when you agree to install something on your machine, and be sure that your computer settings don’t allow for auto-installation of new software.
E-Mail Attachments and Links – There are several practices hackers employ to get users to voluntarily load viruses or disclose sensitive information.
• Phishing – Hackers will send out the same e-mail to a large group of e-mail addresses, inviting the user to click on a link or open an attachment. The sender may appear to be a legitimate vendor or someone that you know of in your organization. The e-mail may ask you to reply with your username and passwords. Many of these messages tend to threaten something – that your e-mail will be blocked or inactivated, that your Paypal or bank account will be closed. Especially be wary of messages that claim to be government entities – the government will never use e-mail for an initial contact with you.
• Spear Phishing – These messages target a specific group of people, such as employees at a company or organization, customers of a specific company, or even a single person. They will use the same tactics as phishing to accomplish a specific set of tasks, including installing virus-ware, ransomware, and disclosing sensitive information.
• Whaling – These messages are directed at upper-level executives. The e-mail is actually crafted to look like an official contact from a court that requires that they click on a link to get more information about a subpoena or other legal filing. The link can either install a keylogger or take them to another website that requests that they install a browser add-in, which then installs a keylogger. Keyloggers record every keystroke on a computer, and save the file so that a hacker can access the file periodically and steal corporate secrets and passwords.
• Vishing & Smishing – This is a newer type of attack using phone systems, cell phones and texting. The message urges users to call a number or respond to a text with banking or credit card information to prevent account closure.
The best way to handle these attacks is to be aware of what they are, and to avoid any type of response. Mark the items that you receive via e-mail as spam, and be sure to notify your IT provider of the incident. If you accidentally click on a link, turn off your computer as quickly as possible and unplug any internet connection. Notify your IT provider immediately so that they can take proper steps to isolate, evaluate and remove any virus or other malicious software from your machine.
“Staying vigilant against these attacks is the best way to avoid virus disasters,” says Brian Cook, the CEO of Fund Accounting Solution Technologies, Inc. (FAST). “Our secure state-of-the-art data center is constantly monitored and protected against ongoing virus threats. FAST staff is required to take periodic security training to stay updated with the latest threats. We encourage all of our customers to do the same.”
FAST’s Cloud ERP solution provides secure access from any internet connection. Upgrading to FundView eliminates the need for on-premise servers; updates and backups happen automatically, lowering initial investment and recurring annual software cost. FundView’s native document attachment feature stores your organization’s supporting records securely in the cloud.