What do Hillary Clinton and Equifax have in common? Good question with an easy answer. They’ve both been hacked. From the corporate world to political platforms, nobody is immune from cybercrime nowadays. IT networks get hacked, identities are stolen and data is compromised. Even computer systems with the latest antivirus and anti-malware fall prey to cybercriminals. So what can you and your IT guys do to protect your precious business data? Take a look… 

Malware, short for malicious software, is code designed to infiltrate your IT infrastructure to access and steal data or cause permanent computer damage. Malware includes trojans, spyware and ransomware, the latter considered to be the greatest menace on the web. In a survey conducted by Trustwave Holdings, 74% of respondents claim that web surfing is the main culprit of malware infections. Not far behind is email coming in at 64%. While there’s probably little you can do to curtail your employees’ web browsing, you can take action when it comes to emails. 

Your staff should be trained not to open any suspicious emails. While viewing any email is, in itself, no longer dangerous, many emails contain attachments; that’s where the problem lies. Attachments contain malware code that will infect a computer and spread through an IT network with you being none the wiser. 

And cybercriminals are cunning. Malware can be disguised in attachments from your bank, eBay or Amazon. The thing is that corporations won’t send you an email with attachments. The emails, like their creators, are fake. Opening or downloading an attachment or clicking on that innocent-looking link spells trouble. And when trouble starts, it comes at you from all directions. 

Your IT department could run a workshop or training session on email safety which should be enforced with ongoing reminders. Better still, email protocol should be intrinsic to your business continuity (BC) planning. 

Here are three fundamental ways of staying safe from email viruses and malware: 

  • • do not open an email attachment unless you know what it is and who it is from
  • • do not ‘click on this link’ under any circumstances
  • • do not unzip any .zip files containing executable (.exe) files

By enforcing and applying these three tips to your in-house email policy you’ll come a long way in keeping your IT network secure and free from malware infection. Cybercrime is accelerating at an unprecedented rate and its global cost will be $2 trillion by 2019. You cannot afford a data breach. You cannot afford downtime. You cannot afford a whopping GDPR fine. You can afford to safeguard your network against cybercrime. So educate and talk to your team about email safety today. It’ll be time well-spent and money well-saved.