If I said that spending about £30 could save your business from computer viruses that can give criminals access to your bank account and lock you out of the files essential to your work, I’m sure you’d agree it was money well spent.
So I wonder how many of you ignored the advice in June from the National Crime Agency to install or update your anti-virus and malware protection to safeguard your computer from GameOver Zeus and CryptoLocker?
GameOver Zeus is a trojan that was said to have infected 15,000 computers in the UK alone, searching for files containing the details that could give criminal gangs access to your bank account.
CryptoLocker is ransomware that locks access to your computer until you pay hundreds of pounds for it to be removed.
There was a two-week window to protect your computer, was the advice given, after US investigators took down servers used to distribute the viruses.
The FBI has been hunting a Syrian-born Russian called Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev, who is allegedly the “administrator” of GameOver Zeus and a leader of the gang behind CyberLocker.
I wondered what happened next, and the answer is that criminals are reportedly once again using the viruses, according to online security firm Symantec, which makes the popular Norton anti-virus software.
So it’s still worth acting now to upgrade your anti-virus protection and perhaps even consider upgrading your computer to one that runs a current operating system, for example Windows 8, for which security updates are still provided by Microsoft. If you can’t run to a new machine, it’s worth checking whether you can upgrade the operating system. But remember to back up your essential files first.
There are handy tips on the government’s getsafeonline.org website including the following:
- Do not open any files attached to an email from an unknown, suspicious or untrustworthy source.
- Uninstall one antivirus program before you install another.
- Be careful with USB connected devices (eg memory sticks, external hard drives, MP3 players) as they are very common carriers of viruses.
- Be careful with CDs/DVDs as they can also contain viruses.
- Do not open any files from web-based digital file delivery companies (eg YouSendIt, Dropbox) that have been uploaded from an unknown, suspicious or untrustworthy source.
- Switch on macro protection in Microsoft Office applications like Word and Excel.
- Buy only reputable software from reputable companies.
- When downloading free software, do so with extreme caution.
Oh, and it’s not true that Apple devices don’t need virus protection. And don’t neglect your Android or other smartphone, either.
Worth £30 for a year’s anti-virus protection? I’d say it was essential insurance for business continuity. And there are free versions of some programs, such as AVG, providing basic protection without the bells and whistles.