Five steps to protecting yourself from international viruses

Just under two weeks ago the National Crime Agency warned internet users that they had 14 days to protect themselves against the Gameover Zeus and CryptoLocker viruses.

The warning stated that the viruses, which have been designed by Russian and Ukrainian criminal gangs, could potentially cost the UK millions of pounds by emptying bank accounts.

But they aren?t just limited to these shores; the international viruses are being treated very seriously by worldwide enforcement agencies, including the FBI.

It all sounds quite scary, right?

Don?t panic though. There is hopefully still time to implement the following simple practices to help minimise the risk of your business being infected online:

1. Use up-to-date software

Make sure your business is using the most up-to-date anti-virus software by installing the latest updates. Also check that you?re using the latest operating system for your computer or MAC.

2. Password change

Make sure your staff change any passwords that may have been compromised or have not been changed in the last 30 days. It?s also important that unencrypted passwords are never stored on a device; instead use a password manager application.  Try to ensure passwords are complex and at least eight characters in length.

3. Backup important information

Ensure all files, including documents, photos and bookmarks are backed up on another piece of hardware or in the cloud in case staff can no longer access them from their computers. Never store sensitive files or data on your local hard disk either. The Crytolocker virus will not only encrypt data on your local computer, but it will also encrypt data on any attached mapped network drive. Server backups are essential with the Crytolocker virus, as once encrypted you are at the mercy of the attackers.

4. Beware of scam emails

Make sure your staff do not open suspicious emails that come from unrecognised sources. Subject lines which sound too good to be true or ones that are misspelt (designed to fool spam filters) are ones to look out for. It?s also important that staff resist clicking on links or downloading software, unless it comes from a reputable source. Emails requesting that you login to confirm your identity or disclose any financial information should be deleted immediately.

5. Beware of the USB

Although they seem relatively harmless, USBs can be deadly. Make sure your staff do not use USBs or other removable media unless it has been scanned or comes from a reputable source.

So far around 250,000 computers have been infected worldwide by CryptoLocker and 15,000 in the UK by Gameover Zeus. Don?t be another number. Keep your business safe by communicating these practices to your staff.

Remember: preparation is key.

If you believe you may have lost money to the Gameover Zeus or CryptoLocker virus, you must contact Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040