​How To Effectively Protect Your Computer And Data From Malicious Software

In most businesses and corporate organisations, computers and mobile devices contain virtually all the vital data and information that is used for daily operations and management. Therefore, it is vital to know how to protect this precious business information from hackers, computer viruses, and other forms of malicious software. An unprotected computer or mobile device will be prone to attacks from identity thieves and fraudsters who are constantly looking for vulnerable computers to attack. Here are some vital steps to take to implement effective computer and data protection.

Install Firewalls

A firewall is a piece of hardware or a software application that prevents hackers from gaining access to your computer and the files stored in it. Firewalls monitor the network requests coming to or from various network access ports and shut out sources that you don't permit. Hackers frequently search the internet for vulnerable machines by pinging thousands of computers and then waiting patiently for responses. Using a firewall on your corporate server and individual workstations will prevent your machines from responding to these hackers' requests. Some operating systems come with built-in firewalls which are not always turned on. Make sure you switch them on and permit them to be updated automatically from the developer's website.

Install Anti-Spyware

Spyware is a term used to describe software that is installed without your consent in order to 'steal' personal information or keep track of your activities online. A common example is a key-logger. This kind of spyware will capture every single key you press and these will automatically include user-names, passwords, and credit card numbers. If your computer has been attacked by spyware, you may see a sudden appearance of pop-up ads or you will suddenly be redirected to websites that you did not decide to visit. Spyware will also use up precious system resources and reduce the speed and response of your computer. For adequate protection against this type of malicious software, you may use a multi-purpose anti-virus that has spyware protection included in it, or install a separate anti-spyware application. In addition, you should avoid downloading free software programs that include adware and hide spyware in them.

Use Updated Anti-virus Software

Top grade anti-virus software will shield your computers from deadly virus software that can wipe out your data, make your computer slow or cause it to crash. Some viruses even permit spammers to send malicious emails from your email software. Most anti-virus software are set up to scan your computers' ports and devices at start-up and at regular intervals. So all incoming emails and downloadable files are scanned before they are saved on your computer. File access, file copying, and execution of scripts will also initiate anti-virus scanning. If any viruses or suspicious files are detected, they are either deleted or quarantined until you decide to delete them. To keep your computer free from viruses, you must ensure that the anti-virus software is always up-to-date by renewing the license and registration. Most anti-virus packages are set to update themselves by default at regular intervals. This will enable them to recognise newly created threats and viruses.

Use Strong and Complex Passwords

You can make your computers, email and other online accounts more secure by using passwords that are difficult to guess. Use strong passwords and complex passwords as often as possible. Strong passwords are at least eight characters-long and have a combination of upper and lower case letters with numbers and some special punctuation characters. Avoid words that can easily be located in an English dictionary. Some password-hacking programs have been designed to attack security and authentication section of email and online applications with all the words in the dictionary.

Read more: Kustodian goes open-source only after success with BlueScope SOC

Fix the Security Settings of Your Browser and Operating System

Windows operating systems and browsers are constant targets for many hackers. They are continually trying to locate and exploit the flaws and security holes in these programs. So to protect your computer and data on it, you should ensure that the security settings on your operating system and browser are set at medium or high levels. Most browsers have a 'Tools' or 'Options' menu option that allows you to tweak the security settings. You should also take full advantage of the automatic updates feature in Windows operating systems. Where possible, ensure that you are using the latest and most secure version of your preferred operating system.

Keeping your computers and business information secure is an absolute necessity in today's digitally driven business environment. Using firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spyware, as well as implementing high security settings on your operating system and browser are some of the simple steps you can take to improve data security. Applying the tips and ideas presented here will help you to protect your corporate network and information from hackers, spyware, viruses, and other forms of malicious software.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags hackersfirewallsanti-spywaremalicious softwareCSO Australia

More about

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jelena Djurdjevic

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place