Your computer might be at risk, please run a scan to ensure a healthy operating environment.
And, you go on and press the “Scan now” button.
Now you sit and relax as the progress bar proceeds towards completion. Once it’s done, you roll up your sleeves and resume the work operations on the PC – carefree!
You think your PC is now protected against all security threats
Apologies to the Avasts, McAfees, Kasperskys and others, for not able to accommodate their snapshot – we just happen to have Microsoft Security Essentials installed at our system, but the process is similar.
“You run the antivirus scan. You wait for the scan to be completed. Hallelujah – your PC seems fully protected against all the security threats and now you can continue from where you left off.”
We know the drill, it’s easy and convenient. But, what we don’t know is:
Installing a firewall or an anti virus program and running scheduled scans do not guarantee complete protection against all computer security threats
There are threats which we end up overlooking, primarily due to our negligence. These are the threats that often carry the biggest loopholes in our structured security system and they can be easily exploited.
What are they?
Computer Security Threats You Might Be Overlooking
The Unreliable Internal Forces
While you may be aggressively strategizing to protect your system against the external forces, perhaps the biggest threat to your computer security are the unreliable internal forces – your own employees.
Naturally, they have your trust, after all they pledged to be loyal to your company, ethically and professionally, but we wish that was the case. Not every employee is as loyal to a company as the other.
- Remember, when Dr. Ten Hong Lee, shared the confidential research and manufacturing data of Avery Dension Corporation with the management of Four Pillars Enterprise?
- Or, was it the locking of horns between Hitachi and IBM, where the latter’s high ranked executives, were found guilty of handing over design and blue prints of workbook with Hitachi?
These and other famous cases of industrial espionage should be enough to send a chill down your spine and urge you to enforce steps that mitigate the security risks carried by unreliable internal forces.
The Solution: You can compartmentalize the data present in the computer system and place restriction over the accessibility of highly confidential and important information. Next, constitute a policy and provision strict penalties against sharing of the password.
Furthermore, do not forget to terminate the accounts of employees, who no longer work at your organization so that they can’t reach the data stored in the system by working their accessibility through the company’s network.
The Unreliable Plug-Ins
We are talking about those nasty USBs that we plug-in carefree, in order to transfer an important file or simply navigate through its content. For, they can contain malicious programs that can put the health of your computer at risk:
- You have an older version of Windows or macOS installed at your system. You plug in the USB disk into your PC and the operating system starts executing the drive. Bang, your system has been exposed to an infected USB drive.
- You have an older version of anti-virus software installed at your system. You plug in the USB disk into your PC and the system asks about scanning the content before executing the drive. The scan is successfully completed but due to an outdated anti-malware program, you failed to detect the advanced malware. Bang, your computer has been infected.
The Solution: The most secured practice is to run the USB on a completely isolated system, one which does not contain any important files or documents. However, we realize that it is not always possible and neither the strategy is convenient, especially if there are multiple users who want to plug in their drives but the number of isolated workstations are few to accommodate the traffic. In this case, you need to make sure that all the computers have an up-to-date version of the anti-virus software, with their USB drive protection feature correctly configured and switched on.
The Unreliable Peek Through the Lens of a Webcam
Not many know about this, but webcam indeed offers a gateway to hackers to spy on your activity over the computer and take control of important information through a remote access.
Hackers can see your desktop, see what you are typing or have typed, look at the stored passwords, snap pictures and navigate through your files – all by using your webcam as the entry passage.
The Solution: The easiest solution is covering your webcam when it’s not in use. It can be with the help of a built-in shutter that comes with modern webcams, or you can even use a tape and place over it – no jokes, just ask Mark Zuckerberg.
The mitigating strategy can further be reinforced by executing some program tweaks, where you can choose the apps that can use the webcam, and apps which can’t. There are also some software, like Oversight and WhoStalksMyCam, which run in the background and send you an alert whenever a computer program tries to run the camera.
The Unreliable Phishing Emails
This is the most common channel that is exploited by hackers, where they disguise as a trustworthy person and infect a machine through phishing emails. Users, not knowing that the email sender is not actually the person they are claiming to be, open the email and execute the action prompted in the content of the email. This gives way to ransomware and advanced malware, one which even the firewall and anti-virus programs fail to detect and take action against.
The Solution: Designing a preventative policy is the best solution in this case. Make sure that the transfer of sensitive data over email is strictly prohibited in your organization, so even if an employee receives an email asking for confidential information, they can immediately treat it with caution.
Moreover, avoid accessing a website directly from the link provided in the email. Rather copy the URL and open it in a separate browser. Set spam filters within your email client to minimize the receipt of phishing emails.
In the end, we would like to conclude that protecting your computer against security threats is a dynamic and never ending process, which can’t be facilitated simply by installing firewalls and anti-virus program, and maintaining a record of schedule inspections. It also needs continuous monitoring, regular security program updates and strict adherence to the provision of safety and preventative policies, which makes the process more complete and comprehensive.