Ottawa wins top rankings, in a game no one wants to be playing.
It is the malware infections (including phishing and ransomware) rate that Ottawa ranks highest in, even when compared to a city like Toronto where the population is significantly higher. Our city has taken notice, as Ottawa Hospital, Carleton University and several non-profit charities have fallen victim. In an effort to combat the attacks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last summer the public consultation on cyber security strategy, while the IT industry as a whole strives to share threat information about emerging threat vectors.
There is not a 100% guaranteed security solution available to protect businesses or end users. However, with a multi-level comprehensive security plan in place, thorough protection is achievable. Perhaps one of the easiest way you can implement an extra level of security is by adjusting how you browse the internet.
Browsers are the most exposed software to potential exploits and therefore need assessment in your security strategy. Kaspersky labs reports that in Q1 of 2016, 48% of exploits targeted web browsers. When a browser window is opened to communicate with the rest of the internet, you are exposed to not only to a portal of unlimited information but also to potentially malicious content. Any vulnerabilities in a particular browser can allow malicious content to run unintentionally. Beyond keeping your browsers up-to-date, choosing browser that are known for their security features can help mitigate any potential risks.
Microsoft Edge Browser
Microsoft has been actively improving Windows 10 against ransomware attacks and their reports show that devices running Windows 10 are 58% less likely to encounter ransomware than when running Windows 7. With Windows 10 enhancements and an updated Edge browser in place, Microsoft reports there has been no known zero day exploits or exploit kits successfully targeting the Edge browser to date.
- SmartScreen. If activated, this security feature warns users if they are accessing known malicious or dangers websites. Different from a Pop-Up Blocker, the filter checks sites and files you download against known threats.
- Windows Hello. A bio-metric (two–factor) authentication feature that works with Windows 10 devices. Since most malicious activity is after credentials, Windows Hello allows for authentication more securely by showing your face, iris, or fingerprint to access the device or applications.
- Malware Resistance. Windows 10 and the Edge Browser have architectural changes that can isolate critical system components from threats. The Edge Browser has also eliminated older binary extensions (like Microsoft ActiveX) from its toolbar, further reducing the attack surface.
- Design Features. Since the Edge Browser design is that of a Universal Windows App, it has compartmentalized the browser from other critical system and data features. This makes it fundamentally more secure than previous browser versions.
Things to Consider
The typical end user can be resistant to change, especially when it comes to changes in technology or the introduction of new tools in the workplace. Challenges present themselves when trying to achieve a balance of advanced security that does not influence the usability or efficiency of business applications.
Easy to implement security features like antivirus, anti-spam software and strategically choosing what browser to use has minimal influence on the user experience but can result in a more comprehensive security strategy. While compatibility issues may dictate which browser you use to perform certain work functions, it is important to understand why you should choose to rely on one particular browser over other options. While Microsoft Edge integrates with the entire Windows security ecosystem, and can be monitored and configured for increased security, other browsers do not, leaving end-users exposed to invisible threats.
Malicious activity evolves over time, which means your security plan needs to respond accordingly. Every organization has a unique threat profile to consider when prioritizing defences. Being proactive in educating end-users, implementing organizational policies, and on-boarding new employees in best practices can improve your business’s security posture.