Antivirus & Security Consulting

General Data differentiates itself from other IT Consultants by virtue of how antivirus and security threats are addressed. General Data assesses both qualitative as well as the quantitative issues and place tremendous emphasis on prevention rather than cure. Again, usually the services of a qualified IT Professional are required to fit the technical and the human element together. This is particularly true when plugging any security holes and closing off potential for problems. An overview of the threats and how they are addressed is outlined in the following paragraphs.

Assessing the Threats

The overarching goal of any Antivirus or Security plan is to prevent loss of data, loss of access to data, prevent downtime and loss of access to network resources. The threats have evolved to a great extent and as such the strategy has had to evolve with it. In the early days, computer viruses were designed simply to delete files and cause chaos while contemporary threats are much more sophisticated and are designed to exploit a PCs computing power for some 3rd party purpose or monetary gain.

Example – “Conventional” Threats

“ILOVEYOU” became a household name after it spread around the world in May of 2000. This is a prime example of a computer virus in the traditional sense. The virus arrived via email as an attachment and, when unleashed, damaged or deleted files on the computer. The end. The virus would then proceed to propagate itself by sending copies to all the contacts in the infected users Address Book. Although the virus was far-reaching and affected users worldwide, the net results were simple, albeit a nuisance.

Example – “RansomWare”

At this point, WANNACRY is likely the best known example of the most effective of the contemporary threats to security: cryptlocking. WANNACRY was a ransomware crypto-worm which spread around the world in 2017 and, among other things, has a financial gain in mind for perpetrators. The malicious code spread via email and, when unleashed, encrypted files on the affected user’s computer. Ostensibly, the method to recover your data is to meet the demands of perpetrators, in this case paying the ransom in bitcoin at which point you would obtain a key to decrypt your files. This threat is particularly effective: not being a virus in the traditional sense, it goes largely undetected by Antivirus software.

Dealing with Threats – The Qualitative Approach

There are several steps in dealing with these threats. The first is to make sure that users are informed and that the lines of communication are open. General Data has often been asked to compile information to go out to users in the form of a write-up or brochure. In our documentation to users, we always state the top three preventative measures:
1. Be cognisant of what you are doing on the Internet.
2. Be cautious when opening attachments that arrive via email, even if the message looks like it is from someone you know.
3. If you suspect that your PC HAS BEEN INFECTED then:
a. Inform your supervisor or IT support right away
b. DO NOT try to hide or ignore what has apparently
c. DO NOT try to fix it yourself

Much of the damage caused by computer viruses can be contained by following these measures.

Dealing with Threats – The Quantitative Approach

Antivirus Software Frankly, not just ANY antivirus software will do. General Data uses a cloud-based endpoint protection suite by Symantec. The suite provides us with a series of tools we can use to monitor and manage virus threats and allows us one-touch access to protected computers. From the admin console we can force virus-definition updates and virus scans, no matter where the computers are located. This helps ensure that computers are always up-to-date and takes responsibility away from the end users. We have had a great deal of success with this software and thus recommend it to all clients.

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