Political Click Bait Articles: What you should know to avoid Malware

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As the election looms closer and we find more and more political posts all over Facebook, Twitter and even in our inbox, users are engaging more and more with click-bait articles as they try to determine who they’ll ultimately cast their vote for. While your employee’s political affiliations and votes may not matter to your organization, what they click on during a social media session does. Hackers love to use hot topics and trends to target your users with malware and attempt to infiltrate your network. Here are a few things you should know about the threat landscape with regard to click bait malware and the election and steps you can take to avoid infections:Understand how things have changed since the last election.

As you probably know, elections only happen every 4 years. Consider the last election and how technology has evolved since. Malware engineers are getting smarter and they’re specifically designing malware to work as soon as users arrive onto a website. Similar to the way cookies work, these websites inject malware into your network as soon as your user clicks on a link. So where previously most phishing attempts have been completed via e-mail, things have evolved quite a bit since last election. This can be a little scary, considering the amount of time that is wasted on social media and external websites every day.

Exactly how much time are my employees spending on social media at work?

While it’s hard to say exactly how much time the average employee is spending on social media or external websites, this article offers the following data from survey.com:

Specifically, the survey revealed 64 percent of employees visit non-work related websites every day at work. Of that group, 39 percent spend one hour or less per week, 29 percent spend 2 hours per week, 21 percent waste five hours per week, and only 3 percent said they waste 10 hours or more doing unrelated activities.

Focus less on what’s causing that disengagement and more on the fact that at any time your employees, who are clearing spending SOME amount of time on social media or external websites, could be click-baited into a malware infection.

What can you do to avoid it?

There are a few things that you can do to avoid malware. The biggest thing is training your employees. While policies regarding social media security and external websites are always good, you should really take some time to educate on what to look for and what to avoid when it comes to click-bait tactics and malware. While this article breaks down the basics for avoiding infections of all kinds, nothing beats comprehensive training. Your IT provider can offer training for your employees on best practices and give them some insight into how to avoid click-bait articles. While it can be difficult to decipher click-bait from news publications trying to get views, for the most part sticking to reputable news resources is our recommended best practice when it comes to articles regarding politics.

As technology continually evolves, hackers are getting smarter. They’re using encryption, click bait, and smarter phishing e-mail tactics. While training your employees is important, you should also establish a plan for your approach to management of antivirus and malware and a continuity or disaster recovery plan for the worst-case scenario. As it gets closer and closer to election day, be sure to sit down with your employees or forward articles that can help educate them on the dangers of click bait and the importance of securing your network for themselves and your business.