When using widgets, potential security threats and attacks are around every corner. As this is a major concern for every business, from large corporations to small companies around the globe, preventative measures should be taken by following some simple and commonsense rules when downloading these popular computer applications.
Widgets, which are applications that make accessing specific information on your computer quick and easy, have experienced a rapid adoption rate in both desktops and mobile devices because they’re easy to create and implement. But they are vulnerable to exploits by hackers and criminals, mainly due to inadequate security models, which allow malicious code to run freely and be spread with ease. Although there have been no major reports of widgets spreading viruses or other malicious code, it has prompted companies such as Yahoo! and Microsoft to be proactive and issue security advisories, patches, and even overhauls of entire security models where widgets are hosted online.
Here are some precautions you can take to prevent attacks when downloading widgets from the Internet:
- Do your research: Treat a widget download as if it’s a major application. A small application doesn’t mean it’s a small threat. When you’re downloading a widget from the Internet, use common sense and be aware of what you’re downloading. Is it a reliable and respected site with proper security measures in place? Don’t trust anything on a peer-2-peer sharing site. Have there been complaints on message boards or other public forums regarding downloads or products the company produces? Is it popular? By doing some simple research, you can feel more confident when downloading widgets.
- Be extra cautious with interactive widgets: Widgets that have external feeds such as RSS-based applications, stock updaters, and external application data programs may carry viruses that piggyback onto your system and spread without your knowledge.
- Create and implement good policy: The most preventative measure for managers and business owners is to enforce strict policies for employees using third-party widgets and applications. Limiting or halting the downloading of widgets before it becomes a problem is critical to ensure all company machines remain safe. Also, business owners should consider implementing security software on company computers to avoid any and all problems.
- Back up your files: This often overlooked but very important measure will allow you to take care of any problem and restore your files within a short time if a widget or application is destructive. The best offense is a good defense.