Written by: Kevin GardnerA virus, or other malware, on your computer can be devastating. When hackers infiltrate your network, they can gain access to (and steal) sensitive business and customer information. Not only is your business compromised, but so are your customers.Even with excellent security measures, it’s still possible for malware to make its way into your network. Acting quickly is vital for protecting your computers, and the information stored within them. If your network has been infected, here’s what you can do.
Identifying a Problem
Viruses and malware can get into your networkand on your computers in various ways – a seemingly legitimate email with a clickable link or downloadable file, a malicious website that has worked its way into search engine results, a popup ad with a warning. Perhaps a hacker has infiltrated your network and placed the virus there. No matter how it gets into your system, a virus is bad news.Viruses affect your network and computers differently depending upon the type. Some destroy your files and shut your computers down. Others act more subtly. You might not even know they’re there, at least not right away. Some signs of a virus include:
- Poor computer performance.
- A change to your homepage.
- Mysterious programs startup when you turn your computer on.
- You can’t get into certain files, folders, or settings.
- You are bombarded by endless popups.
- Emails are being sent from your address that you didn’t send.
Eliminating the Virus
If your antivirus software doesn’t catch and remove the malicious code, you will need to act quickly to get rid of the infection from your network.
Disconnect from the network.
If you find out that there’s a virus in your network, disconnect from the internet immediately. This will help to prevent additional infections from an outside source. You should also take down your local network and disable file and printer sharing to stop the virus from spreading between machines.
Clean your computers.
Make sure that all of your computers have the latest updates for antivirus software and scan your computers. Then, disinfect them. If the software can’t get rid of the code, you may need to reinstall your operating system, which will erase all files and software from the system.
Scan your computers again.
Once the computers have been cleaned, restart them and scan them again. If the malicious code finds its way into your system restore files, you will need to temporarily disable system restore before restarting. After the restart, the infected files should no longer be there.
Preventing a Future Infection
After eliminating a virus from your network, you need to take steps to ensure that another one doesn’t get in.
- Make sure that your operating systems and all software (including antivirus and other protective programs) are up-to-date. Enable automatic updates to make sure you’re always running the latest versions.
- Use asymmetric routing safely, or avoid using it altogether. While it may seem more efficient, it provides more routes for potential threats to come in.
- Enable or (if you don’t have it) install a firewall. The firewall helps to prevent malicious threats from getting into your network.
- Change your passwords. During an infection, your passwords may have been compromised. To ensure that your system stays safe, change all passwords and have your employees do the same. In addition to encouraging complex passwords, you may also want to consider a form of authentication such as 2FA or temporary codes.
- Educate your employees. Hold a meeting and go over what happened with your employees. Make sure that they know what to look for, such as suspicious emails containing links or files, and what they can do to help keep your network, your business, and your customers safe.
- Viruses and other malware in your network have the potential to cause significant problems. Acting quickly, however, and taking the right steps can help you to eliminate the threat and prevent new infections from getting in.