It used to be that the biggest threat to your computers and data was a virus. Antivirus software became big business, helping people protect their data.
Anti-virus is part of IT Security that deals with implementing measures and systems designed to securely protect and safeguard information using various forms of technology, including anti-malware, email and firewall protection. IT Security is not Cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity is precautions taken to guard against crime that involves the internet, especially unauthorised access to computer systems and data connected to the internet, including Dark Web Monitoring, Security Awareness Training against phishing emails, password management, and multi-factor authentication.
For a while, there was nothing wrong with just IT Security. Now, it only captures a fraction of the critical security controls. Threats today are more advanced and become more sophisticated every day. The result? A growing divide between the threats your current IT Security protects against and the advanced threats that exist today.
Antivirus software on its own is NOT ENOUGH anymore. Although you absolutely should be running antivirus and anti-malware software, here are five reasons why it isn’t going to protect your data on its own.
1 Phishing is now the biggest threat.
Phishing is a fake email or social media message that purports to be from a company (often a bank) or somebody you know that contains a malicious link. Phishing is most often used to harvest login names and passwords or credit card numbers. One newly popular scam is an email that tells you you ordered something you didn’t. When you click on the link to cancel the order, the scammers will harvest your data. Antivirus software can do nothing to keep you from being phished. Spam filters will keep out some, but not all, phishing emails. The best defense is never to click on links in unsolicited email, even if it’s from a company you normally do business with. Delete the emails unread whenever possible as some emails have pixels that tell the scammer if you read the message, which tells them they have a legitimate email address they can try again or sell to others.
Train your staff to identify phishing emails. Sign up for a free Security Awareness Training here.
2 Most antivirus software is based on what are called “signatures.”
The program is coded to match small pieces of code with a database of known viruses. The obvious problem with this is that the signatures have to be harvested. Large numbers of signatures slow down antivirus software, which is why running it can make older computers nearly as unusable as a virus. New malware will often slip through. Free antivirus software often has only a small database of signatures and will not stop much (although it is better than nothing). It may also expire while you are not looking. Also, if you forget to update your software, you will miss new threats.
3 Browser-based exploits are another massive and growing threat.
These often take the form of malicious links, cloned websites, or malicious add-ons. Only install add-ons or plugins from a reputable developer. Shady add-ons may compromise security and poorly-coded ones can be almost as bad. You should, however, always run an ad blocker. If you do a lot of online research, it might be worth installing a link checking tool. Make sure that your browser is updated regularly, ideally automatically, so you get all of the security patches. Cloned websites are another issue. Always make sure you are on the website you think you are before entering your login details or personal information. Check the URL for typos (scammers will sometimes “typosquat” by buying a domain name one character from a popular site and setting up a clone). Hotel booking sites are particularly commonly cloned.
Take full control of internet use within your organisation. Sign up for a free DNS Filter orientation here.
4 Fake mobile apps.
Many people don’t even run the most basic, free antivirus protection on their phones or tablets. According to McAfee, fake mobile apps are on the rise. Often disguised as games or other innocent applications they actually lurk around to steal, for example, your banking login credentials. Never install an app from any source other than the main app store. The app stores curate apps and check them for viruses. They try to remove fake apps promptly. Never click on a link in an SMS to install an app, regardless of who or where it comes from. Always go to the app store.
5 No One Is Watching Alerts!
No one is monitoring the status of your antivirus. Meaning that if it goes out of date, stops working, or finds a threat who is going to react? Monitoring of your antivirus and other threat protection software is critical and we can help if needed.
The threat landscape is constantly shifting and getting broader and why antivirus is not enough. Free antivirus is a bare minimum you cannot rely on, and even many paid services are insufficient. In the long term, having an IT professional routinely check at least desktops and servers for cyber hygiene and help you develop a strategy is far better. We offer a free threat “health check” for businesses and will help you come up with a personalized threat prevention strategy suited to your industry and business size.
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