You’re vigilant about keeping your anti-virus program up to date, and you regularly run scans. You’ve ensured that your passwords are strong and that access to the system is restricted to job-essential functions. You’ve even arranged security awareness training for your employees.

You might be feeling a little smug about your online security. And yes, you’re doing a lot of the right things. Your system is being well-protected. But I’ll bet there’s one area that you’ve never really thought about much – the other software you use in your office.

What Do Other Office Technologies Have to Do with Your Data Security?

More than you may realize. There might be bugs and vulnerabilities in any software program. If hackers find a way to exploit these vulnerabilities, they may be able to use them to sneak malware onto your system.

Fortunately, most of the software vendors catch these bugs quickly and develop patches for them. Unfortunately, it may take a little while for them to find a patch. In the meantime, your system is vulnerable to a zero-day attack.

What’s a Zero-Day Attack?

It’s an attack based on a vulnerability that the vendor hasn’t released a patch for yet. Don’t underestimate how dangerous these attacks can be. It sounds like a small thing, but it could well give a hacker access to your system.

How to Protect Yourself from a Zero-Day Attack

The difficulty with these attacks is that technically there is no fix yet. So, your best defense is to use a combination of proactive measures and to have a good recovery plan in place. 

Start with a Great Anti-Virus System

Look for a system that will cut off as many attack vectors as possible. A good anti-virus program will protect your system. A great anti-virus system will also scan your email to ensure that incoming threats are stopped before they have a chance to wreak havoc on your system.

If you’re using a cloud-based program, security updates will automatically happen. If you’re using installed software, then you’ll have to run the updates yourself. The program can check for new definitions automatically. That’s the safest bet.

Update Your Operating Software Regularly

I know how much everyone loves a Window’s update, but they are important. When your operating software is updated, updates may include:

·         Security patches

·         New features

·         The removal of features that are past their sell-by date

·         Bug fixes

·         Updated drivers

Updating your operating software on a regular basis is a must. Consider changing this to an automatic update if you don’t have time to schedule regular updates.

Check for New Software Releases Regularly

Considering the amount of software, the average computer system uses, it’s easiest to set the programs to check for new releases automatically. These options normally default to checking for updates every time you go online, but you can change the frequency of checks to once a day, or once a week if you prefer.

My preference is to check at least once a day. This limits the amount of time between a zero-day vulnerability appearing, and how fast you get the update. Keep in mind that older versions of the software are still vulnerable until the patch is installed.

And, while you’re at it, it’s a good policy to check for driver updates on a regular basis as well.

Final Notes

Taking a passive stance when it comes to online security is no longer a viable proposition. Your best defense is a good offense. Be proactive when it comes to your system security – schedule regular updates and keep up to date on the best security practices.

Finally, have at least one backup and an alternate. The backups should each be stored separately from your system. Using cold storage (In other words, a hard drive not connected to the system or the web) is always good practice. Store the second backup off-site, so if something happens to the first backup, you have a spare.

By being always prepared for an attack, you make yourself a harder target and less vulnerable to malware and other online threats.