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Bug off! How to protect your PC from malware

Most people use the phrase “computer virus” to describe all malicious software – known as malware. However, computer viruses are just one arm, which self-replicate and move between computers, infecting each as they go along.

As with many biological viruses, malware adapts and changes – and in 2016, Panda Security estimated that an estimated 200 00 new malware samples were being released every day.

Corporate organisations across the globe have reported being hit with another ransomware attack known as "Petya", just weeks after the WannaCry attack crippled organisations as large as the NHS.

Petya - like WannaCry - exploits flaws in Microsoft's operating system to lock users out of their computers, demanding a ransom in the form of bitcoin.

It’s scary stuff – so here are five things that you can do to make sure that you and your data are protected.

Make sure that your operating system is up-to-date

Both Petya and WannaCry exploited flaws in outdated Microsoft software to lock people’s files away in an attempt to force them to pay for access. Although Microsoft responded by issuing urgent patches fixing the issue, many businesses were slow to update and were affected as a result.

The easiest way to avoid this is to make sure you’ve enabled automatic updates on your machine. That way, every time a new security patch is released, you’ll get it.

Invest in a good anti-virus programme

Petya has taken things up a notch from its predecessor, and also attempts to use two Windows administrative tools to gain access to its machine. According to The Guardian, the malware tries one option and if it doesn’t work, tries the next one.

Most anti-virus companies now claim to have added protection against Petya to their systems, but where do you start?

There are a number of great anti-virus programmes on the market, with many offering free basic protection against malware and viruses.

Make sure to update your version of your anti-virus when prompted, and if you want comprehensive protection, it’s worth paying the monthly or annual subscription – particularly if you own a business with a number of users on one network.

Beware of pop-ups and links from unknown origins

It happens – you’re browsing a site and a pop-up or banner catches your eye. Maybe you get an email purporting to be from your bank, or from Sars, telling you to “follow this link to update your information”. Be careful where you click – hover your mouse over the URL before you click to double check that it seems legitimate. If you’re still not sure, rather don’t click.

Don’t download unknown email attachments

This is an easy mistake to make in a business environment. You get an email from someone with an attached file. You don’t know the person, but maybe it’s a juicy tender or a payment notification from one of your clients.

Craft better passwords

While “Password123” or your dog’s name are easy to remember, simple passwords like these are easy for hackers to decrypt. There’s a reason that many sites insist on complex passwords – it makes hackers’ jobs more difficult. With the amount of personal and ifi information we tend to place online, secure passwords are essential!

Need a hand with picking the right anti-virus for your business, or struggling to get rid of a pesky bit of malware? We have Nerds that can help!

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