If I disconnect my computer from the web when I suspect a link may be malware, will that keep me safe?
It doesn't hurt, but it doesn't mean the malware is gone or even disrupted. More than likely the malware is waiting for you to reconnect to the Internet and will simply start up where it left off when you disconnected.
The bad guys - when writing malware scripts – often anticipate for the different reactions of their targets, including those who disconnect from the Internet or power off their machine. So, they write the malware script to patiently wait until you are reconnected and/or powered up.
Think of it like when you are printing documents and the printer runs out of paper. The printer stops and waits until you add paper and then continues printing.
That does not mean you should not disconnect or power down. To the contrary, you should. When you disconnect and or power down you are delaying the execution of the malware and buying time. Time to allow you to contact your IT department or go to a specialist who can isolate your machine so that the malware does not infect your entire office or home network.
The final takeaway is that if you suspect you have made a mistake, disconnect, shut down and call for help.
Jack McCalmon, Leslie Zieren, and Emily Brodzinski are attorneys with more than 50 years combined experience assisting employers in lowering their risk, including answering questions, like the one above, through the McCalmon Group's Best Practices Help Line. The Best Practice Help Line is a service of The McCalmon Group, Inc. Your organization may have access to The Best Practice Help Line or a similar service from another provider at no cost to you or at a discount. For questions about The Best Practice Help Line or what similar services are available to you via this Platform, call 888.712.7667.
If you have a question that you would like Jack McCalmon, Leslie Zieren, or Emily Brodzinski to consider for this column, please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that The McCalmon Group cannot guarantee that your question will be answered. Answers are based on generally accepted risk management best practices. They are not, and should not be considered, legal advice. If you need an answer immediately or desire legal advice, please call your local legal counsel.