Home Articles How to avoid the bad kind of going viral: viruses and malware

How to avoid the bad kind of going viral: viruses and malware


Computer viruses can wreak havoc on anyone.

But, when those bugs compromise the way you do business it can cause many more problems.

Let’s have a look at several types of viruses that can have an affect on your business, the issues that spawn from an infection, and what you can do to fix the problems.

File infector virus

This type of virus is the most common. The bug settles within a specific file on your computer and begins to do damage. It can overwrite the file where it is located, replace parts of the file (making it harder to detect), or it may, instead, be executed in place of the intended program or file. For example if the virus nests within the Excel program and you try to launch it, the virus will take over and won’t allow access to the program.

This can be particularly damaging when a virus overwrites client information, payroll information, or personal documents like pictures. There are many flavors of this type of virus; some variants will open spam instead of the desired file or even prompt you to download a new “version”—which can be a more malicious virus.

Solution: The best way to prevent and repair virus attacks on your devices is to install anti-virus protection. There are thousands of malware codes distributed every year, so it’s very beneficial to install a package that can scan your device frequently, detect potentially harmful attacks, and eliminate viruses that have slipped through the cracks.

Remember to update your software often. Many providers of operating systems are aware of harmful malware and create “patches” to fix the vulnerabilities within their system.

PoS Dexter

A specific virus (discovered Dec. 2012), known as Dexter, can be very devastating for any business using point-of-sale systems (POS). It is customised malware that has infected hundreds of systems in 40 countries around the world. Its purpose: to steal data from bank cards used for payment. How Dexter infected systems is still unknown.

How does it work? Once a computer is infected, Dexter transfers all data (name, account number, expiration date, etc.) to a remote server. The info is then used to replicate cards and could result in your clients getting their money stolen.

Solution: The best way to combat this virus that is running rampant, is to use systems with integrated point-to-point encryption. This protects cardholder data from the time it is swiped to the time the payment process is complete. These systems trick the attacker; changing the 16-digit number on the card to random digits that can’t be used to create a card. So, if the system is breached, the hacker essentially receives useless data.

Operating POS systems on isolated networks can prevent an intrusion all together. These networks run separately from existing internet networks and can prevent attackers from entering into the system.

Devices on network

More than ever before, we are using our smartphones in all aspects of our lives. Therefore it is important to note that these devices can be the source of the virus that affects your business. There are typically three ways a virus can spread: via Bluetooth connection, USB ports, and wireless networks.

Some malware-infected smartphones are designed to spread exclusively through Bluetooth networks. The bug automatically searches for other devices connected through Bluetooth and attempt to infect them.

A worm known as Hamweq.A took a different approach; designed to spread when a phone was connected to a computer through a USB port. As soon as an infected phone was plugged in to say, charge or transfer files, the virus would attack the computer.

And of course, a system can become infected from sharing an internet network with an infected device.

Solution: Make sure your employees know the dangers of viruses and how they can spread. A seemingly harmless act like charging your phone on a work computer can potentially render business devices inoperable. Also, make sure that no one downloads any suspicious programs or activates any devious email attachments, as those can be the source of viruses.

As you may have gathered, a virus can have a significant impact on your business. Dealing with a virus can cause stress and amount to hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars in repair costs. Not to mention, it can decrease productivity when machines are infected; repair usually requires the system to be taken offline.

Worst of all, if pertinent information was to be leaked, the one thing that is most important to your business’ success could be irreparably damaged: your reputation. Making simple changes to your business’ devices and your employee’s habits can strengthen security and prevent any unfortunate contamination.

Charles Trentham retired from a small telecom startup after the bubble burst, and since then he’s been blogging full time, occasionally freelancing for Trend Micro. He enjoys spending time with his family and Kelpie named Elaine.