Online security FAQs: Dealing with malware

20th January, 2017

online security against cybercrime

Malware is nasty. At one end of the spectrum, it’s annoying and intrusive. At the other end, it can cause serious headaches – and costs – for your business.

Before venturing further, obviously only a professional familiar with your situation and your IT infrastructure can offer specific advice. All we can do here is help to clarify a few important points.

Disclaimer: This information is intended to be general in nature. For information that is customised to your business circumstances, please seek specialist advice. 

When it comes to antivirus software (which, hopefully, you’re already running):

  1. Anything is better than nothing
  2. Nothing protects against everything

Those two tips alone are so important, they’re what I tell people when I don’t have time to explain anything else.

But here are some more thoughts that you may find helpful:

  • When it comes to brands, most of the big names are pretty good. Ask friends or other business owners which brand they’ve had a good experience with, or search reviews in the reputable online computer magazines. (Don’t just click on an ad, though)
  • It’s usually not a good idea to run multiple protective products at the same time. They can interact in unpredictable ways and cause problems that aren’t easy to solve.
  • Threats evolve at a frantic pace so you do need to keep the software (and your operating system) updated. Fortunately it’s easy to make this happen automatically in the background.
  • Macintosh computers are not immune to malware, no matter what you’ve heard to the contrary.
  • Remember that viruses are far from the only threat you face, so antivirus software is only part of the answer!

What about free antivirus options?

There are also free antivirus-software options available, and there’s limited data available about whether products that charge recurring fees work better.

In some cases, companies charge only for features of interest to larger businesses, such as centralised management. Offering a free basic version benefits them because a large customer base running their software is promptly reporting newly-encountered threats back to their developers.

It’s also helpful to understand that some antivirus software reports browser cookies (often used by advertisers to track you as you move from site to site) as a “threat”, even though they are relatively harmless. Your browser may host hundreds of them without it representing any problem.

So be sure to carefully read any warnings you get, and ask a specialist about anything that’s not clear. And if you find your software raises the alarm about unimportant matters too often, or pesters you to upgrade to a paid version, or slows down your computer, consider changing to another brand.

Some antivirus products also advertise protection against other types of threats – spyware, adware, etc – which is fine. Just keep in mind there are few rigid definitions for many of these terms, so don’t spend too much time comparing feature lists.

Remember: Anything is better than nothing!

Beyond virus protection

There are many other threats beyond viruses, of course. But automated tools like antivirus applications can only go so far to protect your system.

Again, the underlying point is about who’s in charge of your computer. There’s more than one way to lose that control, but anti-malware tools form an important part of a reasonable protective strategy.

Again, only a professional familiar with your situation and your IT infrastructure can offer advice specific to your business’s needs. Always seek specialist help to get the best outcome for your business.

Keeping your business information safe and protected is vital. That’s why MYOB uses industry best-practice security protocols to keep your data safe, secure and private. Read about MYOB’s Security Commitment here.