Tips for Defending Against Winter Colds, Flus—and Cyber Threats

GettyImages-600171016If you haven’t yet had a serious cold or flu this winter, consider yourself lucky. And if you have, or are going through one right now, my heartfelt condolences.

While beginning recovery from one of my own worst colds since childhood—and helping my wife get over hers—some parallels began to occur to me between fighting these personal health threats and fighting off threats to cybersecurity.

Herewith, some tips for both. (Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or provider of healthcare in any official capacity, in case that wasn’t yet clear. The cold and flu tips offered below are based solely upon my personal experiences and research. That should keep our legal eagles happy.)

Prevent.

As the aphorism goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And while no efforts to prevent infection are always entirely effective, each may help at least a little.

For colds and flus, this means it’s worth trying everything from over-the-counter supplements rich in vitamin C and zinc to foods high in antioxidants (including coffee—yay!) and probiotics (especially fermented goodies such as sauerkraut and kimchee). It’s also worth striving to avoid exposure to people and places where germs proliferate, such as your office or any family gatherings. Good luck with that.

For cybersecurity, prevention efforts are also never totally effective, but always nonetheless worthwhile. These can range from whitelisting and blacklisting specific types of applications and files to training users to avoid phishing emails and bogus Web sites. Locking down all network endpoints, refusing to support user-provided or mobile devices, or forbidding Web access may increase cybersecurity as well. However, such moves may also hobble user productivity, and motivate some to find and use work-arounds, with potentially catastrophic results.

Detect.

With colds and flus, the sooner you are aware that you’ve got something, the sooner you can take steps to fight it, and the more effective those steps are likely to be. This means paying close attention to things you might ordinarily ignore or take for granted, such as your breathing, your appetite, your body temperature, and new but apparently minor aches or pains. Taking over-the-counter or homeopathic symptom-alleviating remedies may help you get through your obligations, but be careful. They can also mask warning signs that you’re about to get worse.

Effective detection is critical to effective cybersecurity as well. You need timely visibility into every circumstance that might be an actual or attempted attack. “Symptoms” to watch for can include unusual resource access or admin privilege requests, unexpected spikes or dips in network traffic, appearances of unauthorized files or programs. To maximize security, you need to be able to monitor all of your endpoints, and all of their files and applications, for any and all suspicious activities. No pressure.

Remediate.

Despite your diligence and vigilance, unless you live in a completely germ-free environment, never leave it, and never have visitors, you will likely catch a cold, the flu, or both at some time. So in addition to your prevention and detection efforts, you need to be prepared to limit the effects of those germs that do get through to you. This is where over-the-counter, homeopathic, and even prescription remedies become critical allies.

If you’ve got a cough, add freshly grated raw ginger and raw, unfiltered honey to your tea of choice, and drink them several times a day. If you’re prescribed medicines, take them exactly as prescribed, and complete all of them to minimize the likelihood of a relapse. Just because you’re feeling better doesn’t mean the threat is entirely remediated.

Remediation in cybersecurity means limiting the effects of successful threats as quickly and completely as possible. This includes identifying and isolating all infected systems, killing any malware running on them, deleting that malware, and preventing its spread to other systems. Anything short of this set of goals leaves your organization vulnerable to follow-on and new threats.

A multi-layered approach is best.

Where colds, flus, and cybersecurity are concerned, there is no single “silver bullet.” There isn’t even a single weapon of choice. Instead, you need an arsenal of tools and processes that you can use in concert to prevent, detect, and remediate even the most aggressive threats.

Your healthcare provider(s) of choice and some online research can help you make giant steps toward successful prevention, detection, and remediation of cold and flu bugs. And LANDESK can definitely help you to do the same where your organization’s cybersecurity is concerned. Check out our past blog posts and other resources to learn more about fighting ransomware and malware. Then, check out our LANDESK, AppSense, and Shavlik security solutions online, or talk to your representative. The sooner you get started, the more protected you’ll be—from colds and flus, and from online threats to your IT resources, your users, and your business.

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