Between April and June this year, the number of cyber attacks targeting businesses in the UK rose by half compared with those that took place between January and March. A 2016 research report found that more than 50 percent of all cyber attacks conducted in 2015 targeted small businesses that employed 250 staff members or less. This is mostly because larger businesses tend to invest more money in sophisticated online security systems, while small businesses often have weaker online protection, making them an easier target for hackers. This is why virus and malware removal practices are so important.
If you own a small business owner, it’s a good idea to be aware of the importance of internet security. It’s wise to learn about potential cyber threats, how to protect your small business online, and how to go about virus and malware removal in the eventuality that your business does fall victim to a cyber attack.
Are malware and viruses the same thing?
Seeing as the majority of us aren’t tech whizzes, it’s a perfectly viable question to ask, “are malware and viruses the same thing?” The short answer is that a virus is a specific kind of malware.
Malware is an abbreviation of malicious software, an umbrella term that refers to software created by online criminals to infiltrate PCs and devices in order to steal, gather information illegally, or damage software and applications. There are many different kinds of malware you should be aware of, including viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, adware and spyware.
What is a virus?
Generally speaking, viruses are software programs that are placed in or attached to frequently used programs, such as operating system files like a Word document, or applications.
The majority of viruses target computers using Microsoft Windows software. When the infected files or applications are opened, the virus activates. Just as there are many different kinds of malware, there are also many different kinds of viruses that might function slightly differently.
Unlike other forms of malware, viruses cannot spread by themselves and must be manually propagated.
Viruses can spread easily via email attachments, USB sticks or external hard drives. Files that are saved on shared networks can also contribute to spreading a virus, especially if the files are commonly used by a number of people.
Is your system or domain infected?
It can sometimes be difficult to know if your system or domain is infected with malware, as hackers have become increasingly skilled at hiding their code and its effects. However there are some common signs that your business might be at risk:
- It takes too long for your operating system or programs to start.
- You frequently get unwanted and unexpected pop-ups.
- You are rapidly and inexplicably running out of hard drive space.
- You receive unusual message prompts and error messages.
- Programs open and close automatically and unexpectedly.
- There are unfamiliar icons on your desktop.
- You cannot access your control panel or task manager.
To check if your domain has been infected by malware, use Google’s Transparency Report. If you are experiencing any of the above signs, or if you run Google diagnostics and it returns a warning, your system or site might be infected, and you will need to explore options for malware removal.
Virus and malware removal
If you think that your Windows system is infected with a virus, there are a number of steps you can do manually to combat the problem:
- Change all passwords on your sites to stronger passwords.
- Close down all programs and disconnect any USB sticks, hard drives or devices.
- Enter all computers into Windows Safe Mode. To do so, restart your computer and hold down the shift key as your PC reboots.
- When asked for troubleshooting options, enter Safe Mode. This will shut down all programs except the absolute essentials, hopefully blocking the computer virus from spreading.
- Following this, you should enter Disk Clean-Up into the start menu, this will check your computer and safely remove any temporary programs.
- After Disk Clean-Up, you’ll need to install malware protection on all of your computers to protect both your operating system and your site and run an antivirus scan.
If you think your website is infected, make sure you stay up-to-date and safe with GoDaddy Website Security, powered by Sucuri. With Google blocklist monitoring and removal, advanced security monitoring, unlimited malware removal and hack repair, and so much more, you can enjoy an effective solution that works 24/7/365.
Virus and malware protection
Having removed any current threats from your system, there are a number of precautions that you can take to prevent future infection of malware:
- Do not download applications that promise to speed up your internet connection or improve download speed for free. Usually these come with adware that will spam your internet browsers and websites.
- Do not open email attachments or links from unknown senders as these are also likely to contain viruses or other malware.
- Do not click on unwanted or unexpected pop-ups and these often come with concealed malware.
- Run Windows Updates to ensure that you have the most recent security updates.
- Update all software packages (such as Microsoft Office).
- Assess all devices that connect to your internal network. Ask any staff members to refrain from connecting devices that aren’t for work purposes.
- Ensure that all devices connected to the internal network have up to date malware protection.
- Back up all important data regularly and always keep at least one recent backup separate from your network.
- Change your passwords regularly and do not share them.
To prevent future infections on your website, you can:
- Use an SSL certificate.
- Change your passwords regularly.
- Frequently scan for vulnerabilities using a tool like GoDaddy Website Security.
- Update any themes, widgets or plugins active on your site.
- Keep up-to-date with any core program updates.
- Perform regular backups.
- Choose a reputable hosting company.
Editor's note: Why worry about malware when GoDaddy can do it for you? Check out GoDaddy's Website Backup service, which features built-in daily malware scanning, automatic daily backups, easy one-click restore and more.
If you are particularly concerned about your ecommerce website, there are specific steps you can take to keep it safe from hackers. Visit the GoDaddy blog for further advice and security tips, such as securing a WordPress site or recovering from Google Malware detection.