In today’s age of digital transformation, new and sophisticated cyberattacks, adoption of VPNs for public Wi-Fi usage, and more, it can be hard to keep track of all the latest technology trends, challenges, and solutions. Viruses are one issue in particular that consistently receives attention but is plagued with myths and misconceptions.

The concept of the computer virus has transformed into a catch-all term for a variety of programs that could damage your computer. In reality, when most people say “virus,” they really mean anything with malicious code.

So what do you actually need to know about viruses today, and what computer virus myths can you disregard? To be able to protect your company computers and data, you need to be aware of the popular types of malware you might see, as well as warning signs that point to an infected device.

“The most common misconception is that it is not going to happen to me or that if it does happen, it won’t be that bad,” says Charles Andrews (better known as Andy), our cybersecurity expert. We’re here to share his insights and the critical information you need to know about computer virus myths, threats, symptoms, and solutions.

Different Types of Infectious Malware

Awareness is a critical component in combating viruses and malware. One harmful computer virus myth is that certain types of devices (namely, Apple products and mobile devices) aren’t susceptible to malware.

All devices can potentially be infected by malware, and there are many different types of malware that leaders and employees need to watch out for. That’s why it is essential to train all end users on how to avoid different types of malware, popular tactics used to infect devices, and how to detect when there is a problem.

The following are some of the most common types of infectious malware that could infiltrate your devices.

A computer screen with a malware notification. One of the biggest computer virus myths is that these malicious softwares are viruses, but actually they're malware.

Viruses

The type of malware with the most name recognition is the virus. A virus is a piece of code that is capable of copying itself, typically resulting in a detrimental effect on the screen of the infected computer.

Getting a virus can be as simple as a user opening an email or clicking on a link that executes a malicious program. From there, the virus will multiply and attack varying aspects of the computer.

Viruses often come from an infected webpage or a phishing email. It is important to remember that secure websites should have “https” at the beginning of the URL. If you just see “http,” think twice before visiting the site and do not enter any of your information.

Worms

Worms are able to replicate with incredible speed. Once they are inside your network, they’ll seek out any available weak computer system that’s online and try to infect it.

Worms work autonomously, and they can transfer themselves from one computer to another without any interaction from users. This makes them one of the more dangerous types of malware and very difficult to detect. 

Trojans

A trojan’s purpose is to get itself installed onto your computer via a seemingly innocuous download, email attachment, or ad. Once installed on your computer, the hacker will have remote access to your network via your device.

Trojans are named as such because they seem harmless and work hard to remain undetected on your computer. They want to remain inconspicuous so that they can be an anchor point to attack other devices, making them especially threatening for company networks with many connected devices.

Botnets

Botnets are a group of infected computers that respond to the call of a botherder or command-and-control server. Botnets’ end goal is to attack en masse against a target in what is referred to as a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS).

A DDoS attack involves one or more attackers attempting to make it impossible for a service to be delivered. The attackers will drown a server in requests so that it will cease to function. 

Ransomware/Crypto Viruses 

This type of attack is rapidly growing in popularity. With ransomware/crypto viruses, hackers will encrypt your data and then ransom it back to you for a price. There are many different ways that hackers will attempt this: sometimes they use botnets, while other times they may use a virus. 

Warning Signs of an Infected Device 

One of the most damaging computer virus myths is that antivirus software offers a complete solution to infectious malware. While antivirus software protects against viruses, it won’t keep you safe against trojans or botnets, for instance.

This is why widespread awareness and proactive prevention are crucial. The sooner you identify a malware infection, the sooner you can remove the malicious code and limit the damage it causes. “Early detection and prevention can’t be overstated in their effectiveness,” says Andy.

No one thinks it will happen to them, but cybercriminals know to target smaller businesses whose cybersecurity may not be as robust. Andy adds, “It’s much better to catch one of these issues early than it is to try and clean it up after.”

The signs of an infected device can differ depending on the type of malware that has infected it. Here are a few common warning signs to watch out for.

Prepare yourself against computer virus myths by reading about the common warning signs of an infected device in our infographic or in the rest of our blog post.

Blue Screen of Death

The Blue Screen of Death, or BSOD, is a name that’s been given to error messages that you will typically see on a Windows computer. If you see the Blue Screen of Death, it means your computer can’t continue with what it was doing and will likely shut down and try to restart.

Typically, a BSOD does not mean you have a virus. If it only happens once, it could be a hardware issue. But if it’s happening frequently, it is possibly the result of a virus.

Increased Overheating or Fan Speed

Is your device overheating during normal activity or inactivity? Is your computer’s fan running higher than normal, even though you don’t have any programs open? If so, this may be a sign that malware is on your device.

In this case, a virus or worm may be causing your device to work harder than it needs to, though it appears not to be doing anything.

Slow Performance

If you notice that your computer or smartphone takes a long time to start running or to open programs, it may be a sign that you have a virus. Before assuming that malware has infected your device, first check to see if you have ample space on your hard drive.

If you do have space and your computer is still running slowly, the culprit could be a damaged hard drive. If the hard drive is not damaged, however, it is highly likely that some kind of malware is infecting your computer.

Other signs of malware may include: frequent pop-ups, error messages, missing or damaged files, system crashes, or unprompted computer restarts. If you notice any of these problems or anything else unusual, Guardian Computer can help.

Guardian Computer: Your Computer Virus Myth Buster and Problem Solver

Our IT experts are here to tackle your technology needs, including everything from malware detection and protection, to Helpdesk support, to fully managed IT services. We are available to answer any questions or concerns you may have, solving issues with fast, friendly customer service. We also provide proactive monitoring to spot issues quickly and prepare for your future needs, so you can have peace of mind about your IT.

Contact us to get started with Guardian today and keep your data protected.

Are you frustrated by your company’s technology? Looking for quick, easy IT fixes that will make a measurable difference?

When you’re running a small business, IT problems should be the least of your worries. It’s critical to keep technology issues off your plate, so you can put your time and energy into the core of your business.

With an efficient IT infrastructure and a knowledgeable IT support team behind your business, you can keep tech issues to a minimum and help your organization run smoothly. Whether your staff is transitioning back into the physical office or still working remotely, Guardian Computer’s Helpdesk Lead, Ryan Prejean, has compiled 6 easy IT fixes to get you started.

Building the Right IT Infrastructure

The transition into a distributed work environment has led many small businesses to invest in IoT devices and update their tech without knowing what’s truly necessary for their business. IoT devices can provide ease and speed to assist in data transfer and accessibility, but the issue is that small businesses are often skimping on the things that matter most when they decide to upgrade their devices. 

According to Ryan, “It’s a firewall, switch, and wireless. Those are the three main things—firewall for protection and control, wireless to get everyone on the network, and the switch, which serves as a central hub.”

Make the most of your technology with these easy, practical additions to your IT infrastructure, or contact us for help managing your IT.

When looking for easy IT fixes for small businesses, consider the 3 key IT infrastructure purchases in this infographic: a firewall, a wireless system, and a switch.

1. Professional Firewall

While it may be a good decision for businesses to accommodate the use of IoT devices, it shouldn’t come at the expense of adequate security. The alarming 20% of small businesses that “plan to invest in cybersecurity software” is strikingly low, especially considering the variety of security concerns that demand companies’ attention today.

Fortunately, a good firewall goes a long way toward addressing many of these issues. Implementing a strong, professional firewall is one of the greatest contributions you can make to your IT infrastructure because it offers critical protection against cyberattacks and data breaches.

“We recommend the Cisco Firepower,” Ryan says. “Cisco Firepower can use AI technology to detect places where you’re likely to get malicious content and block certain websites or ads. We try to put as many walls as possible between users and potential threats.”

2. Seamless Wireless 

“Everyone has to get on the network,” says Ryan. No business wants to deal with the cost of network downtime, so you need a fast, secure, reliable network to make the most of your technology and workforce productivity. 

Ryan recommends using the Cisco Meraki wireless system. As a wireless mesh network, it has the advantage of establishing multiple nodes, offering better coverage and stronger performance than traditional networks.

An office with lines connecting different devices as a representation of seamless wireless, which is one of the easy IT fixes for small businesses to make.

In addition to providing seamless wireless access throughout your building, the system can perform automatic updates and alert you when there’s an issue with your network. “When your employees bring their own devices, having a sophisticated wireless system helps boost your security,” Ryan explains. 

3. Central Switch

“Your switch is the central point, where all your expensive pieces of equipment connect,” says Ryan. “It will communicate with your firewall and it goes out to every plug.”

As such, it’s worth investing in a solid switch, setting it up to properly communicate with your tech, and protecting it with a UPS (uninterruptible power supply).

4. Surge Protector

Speaking of UPSs, here’s a bonus tip for your IT infrastructure:

“You don’t need a fancy UPS for every computer,” says Ryan. “But if you’re getting your employees good machines that are going to last 5 to 7 years, then they’re probably $1,000+ pieces of equipment and you don’t want them fried if there’s a storm. Get a $20 surge protector on Amazon to protect them.” 

Keeping Everything Up to Date 

When you’re building a strong IT infrastructure, you have to make sure your software is up to date or you could run into security and performance issues. Today, keeping devices updated is more important than having the latest model.

“It used to be the case that if you got a laptop, 3 years later it would crawl compared to anything modern-day on the market. This is changing slightly as our field matures,” Ryan explains. “For desktops and laptops, it is not critical that the hardware be new but that the OS is up to date.”

5. Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure

It’s no secret that Microsoft is the industry standard. With most businesses already using Microsoft products (such as Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more), an easy way to keep tech up to date, streamline operations, and potentially cut redundant costs is to fully leverage the Microsoft ecosystem with 365 and Azure.

Some of the top benefits that Microsoft 365 offers include:

  • Easy integration with Microsoft apps
  • Automatically synced email, contacts, and calendar
  • Access to apps offline
  • Seamless login and authentication
  • Built-in compliance features
  • 5GB of free storage via OneDrive
  • 1 TB of storage via SharePoint
  • Sharing and collaboration features via SharePoint

As for Microsoft Azure, it’s the only way to establish a serverless business infrastructure that seamlessly integrates with the Microsoft ecosystem. If you put a virtual server on Amazon, for instance, it won’t integrate with Microsoft 365. You would have to tie it in manually.

A few of its other advantages include:

  • Application and device management
  • Threat detection and multi-factor authentication
  • Guest user accounts and sign-ins
  • Hybrid interaction with desktop and cloud-based applications
  • Identity governance to manage identity, audit, and verify its effectiveness
  • Reporting and monitoring

Learn more about the advantages of Microsoft 365 over G Suite from our co-founder, co-owner, and CEO, John Prejean, or read about more of Microsoft Azure’s benefits from Ryan.

6. Antivirus Protection

This might seem like a no-brainer, but up-to-date antivirus software is critical. Be sure to put antivirus protection on every company computer and keep it updated. Ryan recommends the professional package from Malwarebytes for most small businesses.

“Malwarebytes automatically blocks users from accessing malicious links and blacklisted websites. This program is installed on machines all over the world, and the free version is one of the most installed antivirus software ever,” Ryan says.

Make More IT Fixes with Guardian Computer

Need support on any of these IT fixes? Looking for more advanced services and solutions? Guardian Computer is here to help. Ranked among the world’s best 501 managed service providers, our clients come to us for trustworthy, expert services and outstanding customer support.

Don’t pay an upcharge, face confusion with IT word salad on your invoices, or be forced to modernize your technology where your business doesn’t need it. With competitive prices and straightforward services, we empower you to make informed decisions about your IT. Contact us today to learn more.

There’s a reason why you haven’t gotten started with cloud storage at your organization yet. Maybe you still have questions about how it would fit into your current infrastructure or security measures. Maybe you’re not convinced it will be worth the time and effort to set up, teach your employees, and maintain. Maybe you just have bigger fish to fry at the moment. But there’s still a nagging feeling that you should figure it out.

No matter what your reason is, the idea of migrating to cloud storage can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Now is the perfect time to finally make the change and reap the benefits in an increasingly digital world. Every client migrated from local server storage to cloud storage was skeptical and did not like it initially. Then the benefits become glaringly obvious.

Learn how to migrate to cloud storage today in just 4 steps:

  1. Create a plan
  2. Decide what will be stored
  3. Transfer your data
  4. Train your employees

We’ll take you through each step, as well as how to avoid some common pitfalls.

Migrating to Cloud Storage in 4 Steps

Check out this infographic listing our 4 steps for migrating to cloud storage or keep reading for more information.

1. Create a Plan

The first step to adopting cloud storage is creating a plan. The more information, existing data storage, employees, and security requirements you have, the more complicated the process becomes.

Having a plan can help keep you on track, establish deadlines, maintain your normal business operations, and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. It also ensures you prepare for any costs, such as the cloud itself and any IT services required to set up, manage, or secure your cloud.

If you are lucky enough to have all data in a single location, your plan will be much easier. Collecting data from multiple servers, workstations, or cloud accounts requires much more planning. No matter what your situation, use this time to define structure and permissions that are easy to navigate and maintain.

2. Decide What Will Be Stored

Your next step is to decide what information will be going into the cloud. Do you want to store customer information? Company logins or financials? Business intelligence?

It may be tempting to skip this step and say you’ll just store everything on the cloud. Especially with remote work on the rise, it seems like it wouldn’t hurt to have everything accessible remotely. While we do not disagree with having all information available, files that are no longer needed or relevant should be deleted. Adding garbage could increase storage costs and will cause unnecessary clutter.

Visualization of a cloud and the many items stored on it, underlining the importance of deciding what to store when migrating to cloud storage.

As you compile the list of information to store on the cloud, note who needs access to it. Some information can be available to everyone in your organization. Sensitive information should only be made available to those who need it—and only for as long as they need it. Establish policies for granting, removing, and periodically reviewing who has access to the information in your cloud.

3. Transfer Your Data

Actually transferring your data is going to be the most significant step of this process. We have found that setting up a data sync is the best option, if possible. This gives you the ability to migrate users in phases as opposed to all at one time. A sync allows users to modify files in the original location and the cloud location without risk of losing data.

Allowing users to use the data from both locations helps to identify your power users. Power users can assist with user training and become cheerleaders for the change.

4. Train Your Employees

The last major step is to train your employees. Although it is often overlooked, this step is critical to implement cloud storage successfully in the long term.

Your employees are what keep your business running. If they are failing to save information, saving it incorrectly, or not following security procedures, it can cause big problems for your business.

Train employees on all cloud procedures, including:

  • What information should be stored in the cloud
  • How to save information to the cloud
  • How to make sure information is synced and backed up
  • How to search for information in the cloud
  • Who should have access to what information
  • How to request or grant access to information
  • What security measures they should take

Don’t rush this step! Cloud storage can increase your organization’s efficiency, but only if employees actually understand how to leverage the cloud. Schedule periodic refreshers to make sure everyone is following protocol and use the opportunity to share new tips and tricks for greater productivity.

The Risks of Cloud Storage

As with any technology, there are risks associated with cloud storage. Some of the risks include:

  • Information previously stored offline faces new cyber risks.
  • If you don’t monitor access and enforce policies for granting access, employees may gain access to information without permission.
  • With data backed up and synced across multiple devices, it can be harder to make sure something is truly deleted from the cloud.
  • At the same time, employees still might accidentally delete or alter information, spreading these faulty changes across all synced devices.

However, these issues don’t have to keep you from taking advantage of cloud storage. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce these risks:

  • Keep any information that is too sensitive off the cloud, and implement cybersecurity measures to protect data stored on the cloud.
  • Establish policies for access to data and regular reviews of employee access. Keep track of who has access to what as well as who granted access, creating more accountability.
  • Choose cloud services that allow you to completely delete information when needed and train employees how to properly delete information.
  • Choose cloud services that track changes to your information and allow you to easily restore previous versions.

By learning how to implement cloud storage with these risks in mind, you can be sure to guard against these issues from the very start. If there is anything you’re still concerned about or that your team needs help with, you can also outsource your cloud storage needs to a trusted IT provider!

Get Expert Help to Implement Cloud Storage Now

Having access to your information from anywhere is valuable, especially when employees are working remotely. Our expert staff can help execute this transition efficiently and seamlessly, so your organization can rest easy and simply reap the benefits.

Our team will set up and closely monitor your cloud, run regular performance checks, and apply updates as they become available. If you have specific requirements for keeping your data storage compliant with federal regulations, such as HIPAA, HITECH, the U.S. Patriot Act, CCAR, FINRA, CFPB, OCC, and more, talk to our team about incorporating this into your cloud setup, monitoring, and maintenance as relevant.

If you ever have a question about your cloud or run into an issue, our experts are available to provide direct support over the phone, online, or in person as needed.

Ready to take advantage of cloud storage? Give us a call at 866-488-4726 or contact us online today!