Network security has possibly never been as important as it is right now. 2017 has been filled with disaster stories about crippling hacks (including that one that knocked out most of the UK’s National Health Service for a while) and on a smaller scale the number of companies left seeking help when their network was taken down by a random virus, or worse still when it was hijacked by a dreaded ransomware exploit, has increased significantly.
And now it is almost certain that a new year will bring with it a whole new set of threats to worry about. Just like ‘real’ organic viruses computer viruses change, mutate and evolve and what might have kept them at bay in the past may not work going forward.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest threats to network security that are poised to cause havoc in 2018.
Malware has become the weapon of choice for hackers over the last few years. In fact, right now there is so much of it floating around that most common basic antivirus products are in many ways totally ineffective. It even evolves faster than specialist malware defense tools in many cases.
The malware that has popped up in 2017 is very sneaky. It can burrow itself into the memory of a computer and reign chaos on a network from within, while evading most anti-virus scans. Malware does have its own kryptonite though; the reboot.
As silly as it sounds, sophisticated malware like this is ‘killed’ by a reboot if it is caught before it has a chance to begin working on causing trouble. Which should solve lots of problems. Except most people – especially at the office – just let their computers fall asleep at the end of the day. The simple act of rebooting a computer at the end of the day may prevent a myriad of problems, so it’s a habit you should insist everyone on your business’ network get into.
The Mobile Menace
Mobile devices – smartphones, laptops, tablets – are now an integral part of most people’s working life. And the ‘new’ malware stalking networks in 2018 takes advantage of that fact. It infects these devices – devices which often have little to no security protection at all – and then when users connect the infected device to their main PC the delighted malware can get to work. Some is even sophisticated enough to spread via the Wi-Fi network.
The important key to preventing this disastrous scenario from occurring is an insistence that employees run virus scans on anything they intend to connect to the network. It’s not even something you should really have to do – don’t folks want to protect that swanky new iPhone X they’ve been showing off? – but until people truly realize the importance of protecting mobile devices from attack it’s something you’ll need to reiterate.
There are two basic types of insider threats to your business network; malicious intent and human error. Much as you probably don’t want to think it could ever happen employees do sometimes ‘go bad’, especially if they are leaving soon. Employee activity monitoring software can be a big help here, and it’s something worth considering anyway, as many companies do find that it can offer great insights to help boost their employees’ productivity and make their lot a better one.
Human error is easier to forgive, but still as potentially harmful. Infected emails opened on network computers, making use of insecure passwords, forgetting to log out of a computer before going home. Humans do these things, making them some of the biggest threats to your business network’s security of all.
The answer here is to start the new year off with a meeting. A meeting that outlines the basic security procedures everyone on the network is to follow and also comes along with a reminder ‘cheat sheet’ that people can keep on their desk or noticeboard. Easy to do, and perhaps the most important thing you can do to help keep your business network safer in 2018.
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