Running an SME can often seem like a never ending stream of crucial choices. You are the core decision maker, responsible for many things; growth, client success and ensuring project deliverables are achieved. With so much at stake and so many plates to spin, some things can often be overlooked and IT can fall victim. When you are so occupied with other tasks, the small warning signs or tiny changes in normally mundane maintenance tasks that normally serve as a trigger to take action are often missed by your busy eyes. Pro-active management of key infrastructure is critical to enabling smooth growth and overall success within your business. Here we briefly discuss some basic IT red flags to keep a lookout for.
If, all of a sudden, you see a big increase in spam emails being sent from your/your staff’s official email addresses, this could be a warning sign that a worm is at work. E-mail worms will typically enter an IT system through the download of one infected file and then replicate themselves across the network via email. Worms do this by penetrating the victim’s email security by phishing links or attachments. They will spread further by scraping all of the victim’s email contact list and then send automated emails that look as if they were actually sent by the victim. Look out - if a known contact from the Sales team is suddenly sending you a lot of junk emails, it's a good idea to get their PC checked.
Odd Browser Behaviour
Browser plug-in ecosystems can pose a threat. Critical security vulnerabilities in 3rd party plugins are frequently detected. This can lead to your internet browser being hijacked and some form of adware being installed on your system via a browser plug-in. When you browse the net using a hijacked browser, you will notice online ads popping up everywhere. We don’t mean the few sponsored results at the top of a Google or Bing search, nor a couple of ads that appear in the side bar when browsing a site. We are referring to ads showing up repeatedly just about everywhere on your browser. You may also experience manipulated search results designed to send you to bogus advertiser sites no matter what your search terms are. Even a simple link click on a seemingly normal link will take you to an entirely unintended page. It is so evident, you just cannot miss identifying an adware ambush!
Much like the Adware ambush, strange pop-ups show up when you least expect them. For example, you may be trying to open a presentation or a document and a series of pop-up windows will appear before you are allowed access to the file. Watch out for these, as they indicate the presence of a malware in your system.
A lot of what used to work before is now broken
Isolated minor software issues occur all the time. The key here is noticing sudden, large changes. If a lot of software you use regularly without issue seems to be broken, this is a key warning sign. It could mean that the malware is in your system and slowly spreading, not only on your own machine but to all machines in your network and beyond.
In conclusion, be on the lookout for unexpected changes, sometimes obvious as in the case of an adware attack, but sometimes more subtle. If you find anything behaving odd or different, like a PC that has suddenly slowed down, or a piece of software that just doesn’t work anymore, or a new browser plug-in added to your system which you don't recall doing your self, or a new homepage in your browser which you didn't change, then these are the types of subtle changes that warrant further investigation.