What to do if your small business falls victim to malware

What to do if your small business falls victim to malware

Never before have small businesses needed to focus more on how they plan to defend their networks and devices against cyber attacks, specifically malware.

Most businesses, not just small, are taking this threat seriously - as they should. In 2018, security service investment in company budgets grew faster than any other investment area.

However, some small businesses that have fallen behind in the defense against malware and other viruses may not know exactly how serious the problem can be. Others may have software in place to protect against malware, but what to do when that software detects a problem can be difficult to determine for many business owners.

Whether your small business has a plan for addressing malware detection and removal or are studying this for the first time, here is what you need to know.

Malware targets small businesses

You may think cyber security is more of a large business and major enterprise concern, but according to Small Business Trends, 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses.

Far too many of those small businesses are not prepared to fend off those attacks, either. Small Business Trends says only 14% of small businesses believe their ability to deal with those attacks as highly effective.

Cyber attacks can put companies out of business

Unfortunately, small businesses often do not have the large pool of resources that are sometimes needed to thwart devastating malware and other cyber attacks. According to Small Business Trends, 60% of small companies go out of business within only six months of a cyber attack.

That statistic alone should convince every small business owner to develop and maintain a cyber security plan that includes a defense against malware and other virus types.

What is malware?

Short for malicious software, the term malware covers a broad range of software types that have been written to do some form of damage to the recipient - who can either be targeted specifically or is the random, unlucky person who clicked on an unsafe link.

Malware is normally created by hackers who are either looking to make money or cause general problems for networks and their users. The malware these hackers develop can be used to steal data, shut down systems or cause inconvenience that can range from annoying to very serious, depending on the victim.

How malware behaves depends on the type of malware that has infected a system. Viruses, trojans, spyware, worms, ransomware, adware and botnets are all forms of malware.

Prevention is always the best defense against malware

When it comes to defending your network and its devices against malware attacks, prevention is always the best strategy.

To help prevent a malware attack from compromising your network, be sure to have a strong antivirus monitoring and removal program and firewall software. The top software available will be able to not only detect, but also quarantine and remove malware.

It’s also critical that you keep on top of all system and software updates. Many of these updates commonly include security and bug fixes that can help you keep your network locked down and safe from unwanted intrusions.

You should also take steps to train your employees on how to recognize and flag suspicious activity. Instruct everyone on your team to take the proper precautions whenever they encounter suspicious email, websites and files. Employees should also never use programs or software from sources that they do not know and trust.

Remember: Never click on or interact with anything that is not from a reputable source. When in doubt, it’s best to be overly cautious.

What to do when malware has been detected

If your anti-virus software detects malware on your system, then you need to act quickly.

Step 1: Disconnect from the internet.

The first step once malware has been detected is to disconnect from the internet. This prevents data from the devices on your network being sent outside your network. It can also help stop the spread of malware from one device to multiple others. If your anti-virus program does not come with a malware removal tool and you must download one, then disconnect from the internet after that tool has been downloaded.

Step 2: Restart in safe mode.

Next, enter safe mode. You can find directions for how to start your computer in safe mode here. Safe mode only allows programs to run if they are absolutely necessary to your computer’s operation. This will likely prevent the malware from operating while your computer is in safe mode.

Step 3: Stay logged out of other accounts.

After booting your computer in safe mode, try not to log in to other accounts until the malware or virus has been completely removed.

Step 4: Monitor for suspicious activity.

You also need to keep an idea on what applications are running while you are using your computer. This can give you an idea as to what software or application may contain or be responsible for the malware. If you locate a suspicious application, then close it.

Step 5: Scan for malware and remove

From here, you can use a malware scanner, or your device’s anti-virus program, to perform a scan for malware. Once the scanner you have selected located the malware, you will be able to remove it from your system.

You aren’t done there, though. You should still run another scan until you are given the all-clear by the program. Even after that, some experts recommend then running another scan with a different program.

Contact professionals to solve your malware problem

If your own antivirus software does not seem to be addressing the malware problem correctly or permanently, then it is time to draw on the experience of IT professionals. For larger operations, this is always recommended, as mitigating malware threats can become more complicated on larger networks.

The team at Advanced Network Professionals can work with you to identify the source of the problem, isolate it from the rest of your system and then successfully remove it.

From there, ANP’s techs can speak more with you about our Remote Monitoring and Managed Antivirus, which helps prevent known and emerging malware and viruses from infecting your network. With Managed Antivirus, ANP takes care of updates, monitoring and maintaining your device and network security. Threats will be detected and dealt with immediately.

Keep your network secure by contacting ANP today.

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