Malicious software—or malware—has become an unpleasant part of our digitally-driven lives. It’s a cyber threat we’d happily live without. But it’s not going away in a hurry, so you need to know how to deal with it.
Malware is almost always a software program or piece of code written with the intention to cause extensive damage. It targets websites and networks to gain unauthorized access to computer systems and sensitive data.
The latest research shows that 74% of surveyed organizations experienced malware activity that spread from one employee to another. 61% of organizations experienced a ransomware attack that led to at least a partial disruption of business operations in 2021.
This tells us that malware attacks are on the rise, and that they can easily spread across networks and wreak havoc for businesses. Ransomware, a particularly malicious form of malware, is also on the rise. Hackers often prefer using ransomware as opposed to more traditional viruses because of the large potential payoff. Statistics show that ransomware payments now exceed $1 billion per year. Making them significantly more lucrative for criminals than classic malware operations—and more devastating for businesses too.
One of the best ways to protect your website against malware is to identify potential vulnerabilities as soon as possible. You can do this by running regular scans on your system for malware, changed files, and blacklistings using a wide range of cybersecurity tools.
Antivirus software is specifically designed to protect your website and computer systems against viruses, Trojans, worms, and a variety of other different forms of malware. Set up weekly automated antivirus scans to identify and quarantine potential threats from your devices.
Modern subscription-based antivirus and anti-malware programsupdate through the cloud. This ensures that you don’t need to perform manual updates to keep your virus database updated. Using the latest versions of the software you have chosen will ensure that you won’t unwittingly spread malware to your website. Even if you accidentally download infected files or media.
Virtual private networks like TrustZone work in very different ways to traditional antivirus and firewall programs. Instead of scanning and identifying potentially harmful code as it enters your hardware, VPNs protect the internet connection. This connection is the most at-risk part of any digital information exchange. This eliminates the risks of potential threats and malware invasions before they have a chance to take hold.
As soon as you access a VPN or open a browser using your VPN, your connection will become completely secure. Regardless of your location or the devices you are using. Your full connection is protected, and so are any data exchanges that take place through that connection.
Not only does a VPN minimize the threat of malware and viruses that can damage your hardware, but it also negates the threat of data leaks and information theft that can lead to identity theft or financial losses. VPN protects both your computer and the networks, devices, and people you communicate with. By eliminating potential risks before they can cause harm, VPNs also maximize the potential of your own existing security measures.
Performing frequent data backups provides an important safety net. Backups allow you to restore essential data in case of a potentially devastating data loss event. Backing up ensures that you can restore your website as soon as possible after it’s infected with malware or attacked by hackers.
You can automatically or manually back up your website’s source code to secondary storage facilities. There are various options available, including cloud storage facilities or external hard drives and storage devices.
Another key way to prevent malware infection on your website is to install a web application firewall (WAF). This cybersecurity tool protects websites, APIs, programs, and mobile applications. It monitors and filters HTTP traffic between web applications and the internet.
Using a WAF will protect your websites, mobile apps, and the data they store from potential threats. At the same time, it will also allow access to legitimate traffic from leads and customers. All while blocking potentially malicious traffic that could relate to malware attacks.
Secure socket layer (SSL) encryption is an international standard security protocol for websites. SSL establishes a secure, impenetrable connection between browsers and websites. It keeps website users and their data safe from the advances of unwanted third parties.
SSL encryption ensures that all data passed between browsers and web servers remains secure and encrypted during the transmission phase. SSL and VPN together prevent malware attacks on websites. Plus, it bars hackers from stealing sensitive information like financial details, names, identity numbers, and personal addresses. Once your website is SSL encrypted, the web address bar will reflect ‘HTTPS’ instead of ‘HTTP’ before your domain.
If your customers and users can upload documents and files to your website, you’re putting your site at risk for malware infection. This feature makes it all too easy for hackers to upload malicious scripts to your web servers and severely impact your website’s functionality and security.
Even the simplest image, text file, or a piece of a data file could contain obscured malware script that can compromise your site instantly. Avoid executable permissions for files, documents and images. There are other user-friendly features you can incorporate into your UI that allow users to share their files safely with you, such as via an embedded email link.
Experts predict that cybercriminals will continue to target larger enterprises with malware in the hopes of securing a large, one-off payment. It’s also predicted that ransomware payment amounts will continue to increase over time. It’s important to prepare for the unknown. Protect your website and your business from the devastation that malware attacks can wreak.
We recommend that you use a VPN at all times when accessing the internet. Install antivirus and anti-malware programs onto your business and personal devices, and run regular scans to detect malware before it has the chance to take hold.
With malware, prevention is always better—and cheaper—than cure.