Tales of an IT Professional – Worried about computer security? Get an Umbrella!

For those reading this outside the UK, you may already feel that the stereotype of the British is that we carry an umbrella at all times – we are known for our changeable weather and propensity for rain. What it does highlight is that the being close to, or under an umbrella is going to bring safety and security from what may be thrown at you – and that’s exactly why Abussi uses an umbrella every day – metaphorically speaking.

Computer security

Abussi works to very simple rule – “we look after all aspects of our clients IT, so they don’t have to”. This approach has been at the heart of what we do since the beginning and it means we get involved in many different elements of our clients IT service management, cloud storage, hosted email and IT hardware support. But underlying all of this is some very basic but important computer security which reduces or eliminates the chances of getting infections from viruses or Malware.

Internet security is a subject which many business owners think of, but do little about. There are many ways in which infections originating from the Internet can affect your business, and it would take too long to outline them here, but I have written on this subject before - see Blog article Three Forms of SME Security Threats

However, at Abussi we use our umbrella…….. well we use a service called Umbrella to provide real-time protection for our clients which monitors Internet traffic and protects them from potential threats. It’s a brilliant service and in its original form (OpenDNS) we have been using it for over 4 years, but last year we moved to the new Umbrella solution for small and mid-size business as it offers a wide range of additional benefits for Abussi and our clients.

Malvertising??

It’s important to point out that you may feel it unnecessary to worry about such Internet threats, perhaps because you have a ‘good anti virus’ software already in place and maybe a ‘good router’ too – but what’s not understood is that Malware and other security threats are embedded into the very web pages you browse, often in a way that you would never notice. One such way this happens is via ‘Malvertising

In summary, Malvertising is where “..Websites or web publishers unknowingly incorporate a corrupted or malicious advertisement into their page. Once the advertisement is in place, and visitors begin clicking on it, their computer can become infected: "the user clicks on the ad to visit the advertised site, and instead is directly infected or redirected to a malicious site.

Under the Umbrella

Abussi used to have numerous problems with Malware ‘appearing’ on client PC’s and the only way to 100% remove such infections is to wipe the PC and re-install. This is not only a problem for the client who has a PC out of action for up to 48 hours, but it’s a support headache for Abussi too. So after we had experienced 4 Malware infections, in the same company, in a 2 month period, we decided that we had to act and that’s when we first started using OpenDNS (soon to become Umbrella).

After deploying it to a handful of clients as a trial, including the one where we had seen a number of infections over a short time, the reason for the Malware on those PC’s became clear. The users were visiting websites which have a higher than normal % for embedded malware (or Malvertising) and that explained how so many PC’s had been infected over a short time. In this case, not only had we helped to solve the problem of elimination infection, but the solution implemented to do so had told us where the problems were coming from via its comprehensive reporting features.

Standard solution for all clients

However, what few clients know is that this service is in place at all – Abussi’s job is to provide computer security to its clients as part of its wider IT support role and so the clients expect their systems to be secure day-2-day. Additionally its important to see prevention of problems as a benefit to Abussi in reducing the number of support requests, so we do not make a charge to our clients for services from Umbrella – they are bundled into the monthly flat fee which our clients pay to benefit from our skills and expertise.

Abussi’s Malware infection rate has dropped to……………….. well, our records show that from a total managed pool of around 500 PC’s, we have had 1 Malware infection in the past 12 months, and that was from a PC which was in a business which was absorbed into Abussi recently; therefore it was probably a dormant infection which ‘appeared’ after we took over. I think that goes to show that the underlying computer security solution we have in place, using our partner OpenDNS / Umbrella is providing both Abussi and Abussi’s clients with a huge benefit.

So next time you are thinking about taking your umbrella with you on the journey to the office, just think……….. if you pass an Abussi client they've already got their umbrella in place !