What’s Your Stance on Malware Prevention, SMB’s? “Malware Schmalware” or “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”?

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Increasingly, non-malicious employee activities are cited among top network security risks. Picture this seemingly innocuous scenario? It’s 3:00 p.m., you’re sitting in your grey cubicle hunched over your laptop. You’ve been at it steadily since 7:30 a.m., your back hurts, your eyes are red and your brain is mush. “Just one minute of distraction,” you tell yourself—and click over to your guilty pleasure, People.com to see how big the royal baby is today, or espn.com to check in on the latest sports scandals.

“YOU NEED TO UPDATE YOUR FLASH PLAYER” shouts your PC in its very official, blinking gray box. You click “update” and press onward in your quest for a brain break, looking for something to take your mind off the spreadsheet you just left.

How could you have known that the harmless-looking flash player alert was actually a well-disguised malware program, designed to breach  network security and search your computer, uncovering sensitive information about you and your company? Did it cross your mind at all? If it did, were you thinking, “even if this is a virus, it won’t affect my PC”?

Despite the known threat of computer viruses and malware, many small businesses still don’t take appropriate defensive action against potential malware attacks and network security threats like the one described above. While preventive measures may seem like an unnecessary expense, the harsh reality is that security breaches are much more costly to a small business than any network protection solution could ever be.

Malware, or malicious software, is programmed to conduct a blanket scan of a computer and pinpoint weak points in the network. Once a weak spot is identified, the malware begins obtaining sensitive data, putting critical company records as well as employees’ personal information, at risk.

To prevent these weak points, the first line of defense is blocking known risk websites with a URL filtering service and protective firewall. Because the majority of malicious attacks originate outside of your organization, a strong firewall is good protection for all of your data.

Additionally, small businesses often overlook the importance of creating and enforcing an “acceptable use Internet policy,” outlining official guidelines regarding acceptable use of the Internet. Having a defined policy in place protects company assets, as well as employees. Taking a little time to create such a policy saves a lot of time trying to mitigate network damage or data loss later.

It is imperative that IT professionals stay up to speed with trending news in the network security world. To keep ahead of smarter malware development, firewalls and security software must be regularly updated and evaluated to ensure they are constantly meeting network security needs. Just as important, IT professionals must be provided with adequate support to reduce risks. Budgeting for solid network security solutions is one of the smartest investments any small business can make.

No business, no matter how large or small, can afford to take a “malware, schmalware” stance, leaving networks wide open to attack. But for small businesses, when customer records are the heartbeat of the business—the focal point for success and growth—it’s even more critical to seek protection. It can mean the difference between shutting the doors or thriving and expanding.

The experts at Windstream can help keep your business data safe and secure. Contact our security team today to find out about network security solutions for small business. You’ll be telling malware to “hit me with your best shot” in no time at all.