Keeping your computer and data safe.
Viruses, malware and other Internet threats continue to increase in quantity and capability every day. Every time you open an unknown email, click on a web link or even open a PDF, you increase the chances of having malware injected directly into your computer. What can you do? Here are some of the actions that we use daily here at Copper State Technology.
- • I hear that Internet Explorer is getting better and better. However I still recommend Firefox/Chrome/Safari.
- • Use an add-on that blocks scripts and tracking (cookies.) I use AdBlock Plus, NoScript and Ghostery for Firefox.
- • Keep your Adobe Flash and Java updated. (Adobe is getting better about keeping Flash up to date.)
- • If you do use Internet Explorer, use IE 9. Older versions are not as secure. Do not use IE 6!
- • Keep your browser and browser add-ons updated. Better to use the automatic updates.
- • Stick to sites you know and trust. Be wary about sites that promise too much. Those site could have malware.
- • Never use a server's web browser to surf the Internet.
- • Be vigilant about any website that wants to install something on your computer.
- • Be careful while searching. Look to see if the website you are clicking on is really where you want to go.
- • When you purchase products over the Internet, use a Credit Card. Those offer more consumer protection than a Debit Card.
Operating system (Windows & Mac).
- • Keep your operating system and software up-to-date with security updates and patches.
- • Consider turning on automatic updates.
- • Remember to update your firewalls, servers, and/or routers as well.
- • Use a personal firewall between your machine and the web. Both Windows and the Mac OS offer a software firewall.
- • Remain vigilant about programs that allow remote access to your computers.
- • You do need to update your software. Adobe Reader & Flash, Java, Microsoft Windows, Silverlight & Office issue regular patches for their software.
- • Ask your software vendors how often they update their software.
- • Please remember to archive your software licenses. Keep those long sequences of goofy characters someplace where you can find them if you need to reload software.
- • Backup up your data --- daily!. No excuses.
- • Important things to backup. Music, Photos, Files, Financial stuff, Movies, Homework.
- • Use a two USB drives for your PC. Alternate the drives. Keep one away from your work space. Don't keep the USB drives connected to the computer. Use it to backup your data and then remove it.
- • Dropbox is a great way to to backup your data to an offsite server. iCloud is finally here!
- • BackBlazeis another data backup/recovery service we use.
Anti-virus and Anti-malware.
- • Install a commercial anti-virus and anti-malware software program on every machine.
- • Please remember that no anti-virus/malware program can prevent all security threats.
- • Please remember that the more you interact with the Internet the greater the odds of running across malware or other security risks.
- • Internet threats include viruses, trojan horses, worms, adware, and spyware.
- • Remember to keep your anti-virus software updated daily.
- • Most anti-virus programs are subscription based. You will need to renew at some point.
- • Consider having a 2nd anti-program installed and ready to use. (For advanced users.)
- • Use a firewall between your network and the Internet. Have someone run a port scan to see if you have any open ports onto your network.
Passwords and Security.
- • Require a password to access your computer. Use a strong password with a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.
- • Use different user ids and passwords for each of your online accounts.
- • Change all your passwords on a regular basis. Monthly is good.
- • Do not log onto your computer as an Administrator. Set up a limited-use account and log on with that user ID and password.
- • Monitor your financial accounts (including credit card statements) for unauthorized activity.
- • Learn as much as possible about Internet Security. Please do not stop with just this list.
- • Unless you are skilled with Internet Security, consider having a commercially hosted email service.
- • Your email host needs to employ anti-virus, anti-malware and spam scanning for every email.
- • Enable your computer's anti-virus and anti-malware program to scan all email.
- • Be prudent with email from unknown parties and be very careful about clicking on links from unknown senders.
- • Never open an executable file (like a .exe file). Google and Yahoo will not allow those files over their email systems for a reason.
- • Do not open a spam email. (We have a friend who like to open them, corrects the grammar and returns them.)
Many organized criminal groups are hacking into small businesses' computer into order to To keep your company's financial data safer, you might consider using just one computer to access all your online accounts. You might setup a single PC or Mac to access your cash accounts, credit lines and/or vendors. This machine would not be used check email nor visit any other Internet sites. This machine would only be used to access your sensitive financial data. By visiting only a handful of financial entities rather than the entire Internet, you can reduce the likelihood of being infected by Internet malware.
These Internet security topics are in no particular order and this is not an exhaustive list. No one thing or even a collection of ideas can keep a computer perfectly secure. The Internet becomes a more dangerous place every day. Even small businesses with only a handful of PCs are not immune to Internet threats.
Please learn as much as you can about Internet Security. Brian Krebs has good resources at his blog regarding Internet security.