Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to infiltrate business systems and want a big payday. According to Mimecast’s State of Email Security Report 2021, email remains the most popular way to try to get around network security. The report found that email threats increased by more than 64 percent during the course of 2020 as the world battled the COVID-19 pandemic and many businesses implemented a remote workforce.

One of the most common ways to infiltrate emails and business networks is the use of malware. While most people have heard of malware, they often fail to understand how it operates and how to prevent it from damaging their business. By understanding how malware works and how it can be prevented, you can protect your business from the malady of malware.

What Is Malware?

By definition, malware is any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server, or network. There are many different types of malware including viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, and adware among others.

As would be expected, malware is constantly morphing. While there are identifiable, long-term trends, cybercriminals are always adapting to software programs, firewalls, and monitoring systems. Unfortunately, cybercriminals don’t give up easily. More than 60 percent of companies in the Mimecast report suffered a ransomware attack in the last year (up from 51 percent in 2019) and 79 percent of businesses experienced damage resulting directly from their lack of cyber preparedness.

Malware is insidious in that it takes advantage of the weakest link in your business; people. The way malware typically operates is that it tricks users, such as your employees, into clicking on malicious links or attachments. Some malware may even ask them to install a nasty program from the internet, all while pretending to be from you, another superior in the company, or another trusted source.

Antivirus & Antimalware Software

With modern antivirus and antimalware software, businesses can prevent zero-day infections. A zero-day infection is a new threat that has just been discovered, with the right programs, your network will be able to resist attacks from zero-day threats. This is because this software is constantly updating to keep up with the latest malware and viruses attacks.

ORAM Corporate Advisors recommends Umbrella by Cisco as the answer to business antivirus and antimalware needs. It fights Trojans, stops crypto-mining attacks before they can get a foothold in your network, and prevents other forms of malware as well. A strong antivirus and antimalware program is the first line of defense against malware infection.

URL Protection

The aforementioned Mimecast report found employees around the globe are clicking on malicious URLs embedded in emails more than in the past. As a matter of fact, Mimecast found that since the onset of the pandemic, employees clicked on three times as many malicious URLs in emails as they had before COVID-19 became of concern.

While Google’s Transparency Report, which warns users about unsafe sites in several ways, has reported a drop in malware-infected websites, there has been an increase in phishing sites as a vector for attacks. Bad actors will build a website that looks remarkably like an official website such as PayPal or your bank. Cybercriminals do this in an effort to collect your user data (this is known as phishing) in order to achieve their own nefarious goals which typically results in separating you or your employees from your hard-earned dollars.

Business networks should always be scanning the URL’s that you and your employees are clicking on. ORAM recommends Umbrella by Cisco which is a URL filter in addition to antiviral and antimalware software. Umbrella offers network security via the cloud to provide fast, flexible network security that covers devices, remote users, and distributed locations. It prevents malware from entering your network by not letting you and your employees click on malicious or threatening links. Consider it a gatekeeper mechanism to prevent you and your staff from going where danger may be lurking.

ORAM also recommends the use of ESET, an award-winning cybersecurity software that we often use in combination with Cisco Umbrella. ESET protects all aspects of your organization’s digital life with advanced machine learning that can be used for devices from Windows and Mac to Android and Linux. The best part about ESET is that it’s an affordable solution for all-around business network protection from data to endpoints and beyond. At ORAM, we have found the tag team between the Umbrella and ESET programs allows most malware to be completely prevented.

Scanning and Monitoring

Using software that constantly scans and monitors your entire network, you can also better fend off harmful malware. Two scanning and monitoring programs ORAM recommends are by McAfee and SolarWinds.

McAfee’s Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Monitor offers detailed forensics for incident investigation, alerts, data classification, and instant risk identification. It also addresses risks as they are encountered and offers comprehensive reports that outline who is sending data, where, and how. It even meets data loss monitoring regulatory requirements ranging from HIPAA and SOX to PCI and GLBA.

SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor offers multi-vendor network monitoring, intelligent maps, and is easily scalable as your business expands. It also offers network insights for a deeper look at potential threats. The program creates alerts based on simple or complex triggers and also provides Wi-Fi monitoring, Cisco ASA Monitoring, deep packet inspection, and more.

Keep It Updated

While having antivirus and antimalware software in place is the first step in preventing malware issues, there’s more to it. You must keep your security software updated regularly to stay on top of the latest threats. Your network can be set to automatically update at certain times of the day or night so it doesn’t interfere with people as they work, keeping your productivity levels high. Additionally, you’ll also want to keep your operating system(s) updated.

One last stat to keep in mind from the annual 2021 Mimecast survey is that 79 percent of respondents acknowledged that their company experienced a business disruption, financial loss, or other setbacks due to a lack of cyber preparedness. Don’t let your business be one of them. Contact ORAM Corporate Advisors at (617) 933-5060 for a free initial consultation and security evaluation to best protect against the threat of malware. Remember, you don’t have to let your company become another victim.