Internet security and antivirus protection is an important topic for businesses. Getting a virus can slow down or even stop a business for a considerable amount of time, and can put the business at risk because of leaked information. The way business computers are networked makes it easy for malware to spread across the network, and can impact a large part of the company.
Even in the best case, a virus can be debilitating. If a business has all of their computers and data backed up, then they may have to spend a few hours or even a few days restoring their network from their backup. However, in the worst case, a virus can be much worse.
Typically, a virus has to be downloaded over the internet. It requires a user to accidentally allow it to run, and then it infects their computer. Most businesses have all of their computers networked through a private network. This can provide an easy way for a virus to spread from one to computer to another, without having to go over the internet. Usually the business network is trusted more, and so it is easier for the virus to spread over the private, secure network than over the public internet.
One employee who is less technically aware than others can start the virus by accidentally and unknowingly downloading it. From his computer it can spread, effecting both other employee’s computers, and even network resources and servers.
Less malicious viruses may just interfere with a computer’s functionality. Some viruses will mess up files and interfere with the computer’s operating system. The most malicious viruses will try not to interfere with the computer, but attempt to find important and sensitive data and send it back to the creators of the virus. The virus may hide, so that no one knows it exists and tries to stop it. The virus can gather sensitive, private company documents, and worse, passwords and login information. Even if you have backups of all of your data and can restore all of your computers after an attack like this, there’s really no way to undo and information that could have been sent to the hackers. This is the worst kind of malware (or spyware) because there isn’t any way to recover from it.
When something like this happens, you will have to shut down your business’s network and computer resources, while your IT department attempts to clean and restore your computers. This can significantly slow or even shut down your business, and cause valuable time to be wasted.
Preventing something like this is fairly easy. Anti-virus programs can easily be installed on each computer, and most major antivirus companies offer business licenses to make it easy to install many copies of the software at once. Firewalls should be installed at the network level to prevent malicious software from spreading. There are many different types of controls which can be installed at an administrator level for networks of computers to prevent things like this, such as preventing end users from installing additional software. How this is done depends on your operating system and the type of network you have set up, but it should be something that is fairly easy for an IT department to do.
While the consequences of a virus can be disastrous, preventing it can be incredibly easy. There are many different anti-virus or anti spam gateway software which can easily and effectively protect your business network from malicious software. Making anti-virus software a standard part of your company’s IT policy will ensure that you don’t have to worry about the possibility of having an infected network.