Over the years, computer hackers have streamlined the way that they infect PCs. No longer can you deploy a simple antivirus and expect to be fully protected against malware, data breach, and other nefarious actions on your computer network.
Exploit Kits, now readily available on the dark web for computer hackers and thieves, can scan target systems for one of many vulnerabilities that may exist on the computer – effectively bypassing antivirus, and searching for the easiest route of infection.
With all of these developments in how computers can be breached, you need a broader plan to avoid being a target for computer hackers. Here are some tips that you can use to protect your systems. I’ve divided these tips into 2 sections: Being Proactive, and increasing Awareness.
- Avoid downloading any unnecessary programs or PDFs. Viruses can now hide in PDFs, Word Documents, and more. You should only download exactly what you need to run your dental practice, and stay away from any other tempting software for your business PCs.
- Don’t go cheap on your Antivirus. Your antivirus should run regular scans, and have an email alert system so that if any nefarious activity is detected, you will be emailed. You may miss the notification on the actual PC, and as a dental practice owner, your employee may not think anything of an alert. Having your alerts emailed to you, or managed centrally, is a must.
- Regularly install your updates. This means not only Windows, but also Java, Flash, Reader, and pretty much all of your network-vulnerable software. Flash is the most notorious. Computer hackers, through exploit kits, can use Flash to install viruses without the user even knowing anything was downloaded. Security updates are released regularly for these softwares – you should check for updates weekly, and make sure your staff knows to install them. Or, get yourself a third-party software that will manage your updates for you – remove the human error, and automate the process.
- Do you really need Java or Flash? If not, then uninstall them. They are the most vulnerable apps running on Windows systems.
- Provide employee training. Let’s face it, some employees don’t know much about computers and can easily open an email link without thinking about it. Drill your best practices into their heads.
- Actually look at your virus scan results. This is where a centrally managed office-wide antivirus is helpful. Once a week, look over the report and make sure no threats were seen. If they were, then make sure your antivirus will tell you where it came from, so that you can remediate the behavior or fix the hole that the virus arrived through.
Increase your awareness
- Check your Programs and Features – are there any programs there that you don’t know about? Sometimes, programs will be installed piggybacked on other installations. The most notorious are “search bars”, which actually redirect regular web traffic to malware-infected sites. Be aware of the programs installed on your PCs.
- Is your computer slow? If so, should it be? What are your specs? If your computer is slow, then find out why. It’s likely some processes or startup items are running that don’t need to be, and some of those might be nefarious in nature. Computer hackers regularly use processes that are hidden to the user. A good way to check is to open the task manager, and sort by CPU or Memory usage, and if you don’t recognize the process, look into it!
- Random Pop-ups? Some sites do have pop-ups, and some of those pop-ups are harmless ads. However, most of the time, when you see pop-ups regularly, it’s possible that an infection has taken place.
- Any odd behavior? Any odd behavior may be evidence of malware or the work of computer hackers.