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Drastic Measures Against Viruses – A Cybersecurity Perspective

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When this column was written, the latest Ohio (COVID) statistics were 656 dead and 14,694 infected with the Coronavirus. And while these numbers are sad and horrible to report, these figures represent only a fraction of the totals that were initially speculated earlier in March. With that, the popular questions I keep hearing and seeing plastered all over social media sites are: Were the drastic measures taken by the Governor to shutdown businesses to control COVID-19 responsible for the decreased numbers? Was shutting down schools for the rest of the academic year the correct call? Or was the original COVID-19 assessment vastly overblown? As I continue to listen to the ping-pong/back and forth arguments from those who support the lockdown and social distancing mandates and those also who simply refuse to buy-in to the hype of this “invisible boogeyman” responsible for bringing the economy to a screeching halt: I find myself in a parallel universe to the arguments and those I have heard and answered to for twenty years in the cybersecurity field.

As the owner of Thirtyseven4, a leading provider of Windows and Mac antivirus/endpoint solutions, I have lost count of the times I’ve listened to tech folks argue that they “don’t need antivirus protection”. Yet, time and time again, these are the same individuals that moan about their systems running incredibly slow (due to malicious processes running they don’t know about), and who blame friends and family for the spam they are receiving, and generating etc. Better still are those users that claim that they no longer need security protection for their devices because their system has never been hit with malware. In direct correlation with the Coronavirus “precautions” leading to lower rates of death and infection: How do you know the antivirus protection solution wasn’t the direct reason that nothing has impacted your system? The reality is: the up-to-date security solution was the reason! But I suppose it’s human nature to be skeptical on what is unseen.

Cybersecurity solutions, like Thirtyseven4 Endpoint Security, are designed to work in the background and to go about its business silently. And while you may think it’s not doing anything, every file you access, read, copy and share is being carefully analyzed in tiny fractions of seconds against a comprehensive malware database and also heuristically for possible suspicious characteristics and behaviors of that file. Last year alone the Thirtyseven4 VirusLab proactively detected and safeguarded our users from 146 million pieces of malware (a number representing nearly 17,000 new detections an hour). That’s a lot of digital “invisible boogeymen”.

I’m not sure who’s right or wrong regarding the Coronavirus severity debate and handling, but I believe we can all agree that the Coronavirus is real. And I continue to draw the parallel between Corona prudence and online cybersecurity: It is simply not wise to wait until the medical virus “hits home” or a computer virus compromises your system before putting any preventative measures in to place. On the computer side of things–take it from one who knows infection– protecting your health and the health of your devices proactively is much easier than dealing with healing or cleaning respectively after the fact.

The purpose of “Staying Home to Save Lives” right now is to minimize the infection and deaths related to COVID-19. There is no way to measure the results of NOT doing this without costing human lives. We just have to understand and trust that staying home and limiting contact is in our (and others!) best interest.

I see the same truth ringing true in antivirus protection. Running a machine with no security or “free” security (about the same thing) puts your information, photos, contacts and data at risk. Utilizing a trusted security provider “flattens the curve” of infection on your machine. It is simply less possible to be compromised if you take proactive security measures.

As we continue to use our home systems for more “school and business” than ever, I highly suggest the wisdom and proven results of strong antivirus cybersecurity. The results can seem intangible, but the lack-of-infection is proof, (even if it is unseen proof). And the reality of an infection or vulnerability or breach on your machine will be tangible, if it occurs.

Stay home and stay safe—both in personal health and in the health of your devices.

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Steven Sundermeier is the Owner of ThirtySeven4, a nationally-respected cyber security firm. You can visit his website at http://www.thirtyseven4.com/