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Your Business May be Vulnerable to Malware

In this day and age, it's hard to ignore social media. Social media is on television, on the radio, in magazines, in books... and, if I'm not mistaken, I believe I even saw it promoted on a grocery receipt. So when I see marketers employ a strategy that doesn't exploit its advantages, I have to wonder: under which rock are they marketing?? -- especially when these people market online.

There isn't a single computer or mobile device in existence that's impervious to malware: malicious software designed to steal identities and bank or credit card numbers. And if you think you're safe, think again.

In as little as six years ago, Symantec predicted in its "Symantec Internet Security Threat Report: Trends for July-December 2007" that malware would soon outnumber legitimate programs. Four years later, Microsoft reported that one in every 14 Internet downloads contained a malware infection. Today, it appears as though both organizations were right. The following lists ways to recognize your particular vulnerabilities.

Your Business Computer is Connected to the Internet

You may be shocked to discover that all it takes to get a malware infection today is a simple Internet connection. At any given time, dozens of external computers literally bombard a computer through port 80 and other miscellaneous, lesser-known ports. Most of these external connections are innocent queries originating from anti-virus programs or the Windows Update software. They're simply checking for installations that need updating. It's the other queries that are concerning because they're not readily identifiable.

Your Company Uses Outdated Virus Protection

Running outdated anti-virus software or running the software without regularly updating its virus definition database is one of the easiest ways to get infected with malware. But employees needn't be at the office to create a vulnerability. Employees who work from an insufficiently protected computer at home or an Internet cafe can spread an infection by simply connecting to a work site from a compromised network.

Your Employees Download and Install Unauthorized Software

There are so many helpful programs online, it's hard to resist downloading and installing a free tool that promises to make work faster and easier. The problem, of course, is that some of these tools - no matter how small or insignificant - can be infected with malware often without its developer even knowing it.

Your Employees Visit Unauthorized Websites on Business Computers

Sometimes, visiting the wrong website can infect a machine just as easily as downloading and installing the wrong software can. And like software programs, malicious websites can infect a machine with Java, a PHP script, Internet cookies, spyware and adware, and other malicious code with a simple visit.

Your Employees Open E-mail Attachments

Most companies have a strict anti-attachment policy in place, but it's getting increasingly difficult to distinguish legitimate contacts from those who've had their online identities stolen. As a result, unsuspecting employees can easily open a portal to malware by downloading an attachment emailed from someone masquerading as a friend, a co-worker or a customer.

What to Do

Because more and more companies allow remote access to servers from their workforce, it's imperative that you do everything you can to combat the threat of malware. Make malware awareness and prevention part of your employee training and continue to monitor systems for suspicious behavior on a constant basis. If you haven't already done so, download Norton's 360 anti-virus suite. Norton 360 Keeps you safe when you surf, shop and bank online, warns you about social media scams and suspicious content, and stops both today's and tomorrow's threats.

You can additionally enforce a company anti-virus policy that restricts the activities described above.