Securing your computers

In the previous Weekly Geek article we talked about how to cleanup from a malware infection. This week I want to go over the general details of preventing one in the first place.

1. Run Windows updates (using a modern operating system such as Windows 7), all of the critical ones including Office updates but none of the hardware ones offered by Microsoft.

2. Hardware updates, video card, NIC, motherboard drivers, get them from the manufacturers. If you own a Dell go to Dell, if you built your computer or it was built by a local company, find the motherboard name and go to their site, same with any add-on cards like video cards. Don’t forget the motherboard BIOS updates too.

3. General software updates such as Adobe, Java, and QuickTime. These are all programs that we have in common. Yes, they seem to constantly need updating. Remember, because they are free and they are updated, then there is a reason. Most of the time it is due to security flaws.

4. Specific software updates to your programs , QuickBooks, Quicken, your medical programs, ticket programs, Point-of-sale, I don’t know your use of the computer but there are other programs you have, make sure they ALL are updated.

5. Properly configure your browser. Whether you use Internet Explorer, FireFox, Opera, Safari or another, they all have security flaws. Once you are sure you have the most recent version, find out how to configure for security (not convenience) and then see if there are some add-ons available. FireFox is best known for this. I have an article from Feb 2010 that still applies here

a. Use security add-ins such as No-Scripts, WOT, Ad block Plus and Ghostery are four I have on my machines.

6. A GREAT anti-virus, properly configured for security and scans (including mapped drives). I like ESET because it is NOT a system resource hog, it is not a marketing campaign and it tends to be in the top 3 when it is compared against others.

7. A Great anti-malware program properly configured, we use Malwarebytes and Spybot Search and Destroy.

a. Configure the HOST file!

8. Software firewall, the one built into Windows is fine but you need to review its settings and see what it is allowing through.

9. Hardware firewall: SonicWall or Meraki, not a $59 Linksys or D-Link. When the firmware is updated and the security is kept up (via subscriptions) these devices block far more attacks than you would realize. They also have the benefit of blocking a large variety of attacks from Viruses to Worms to Junk email and plain old penetration testing. The new breed of these UTMS (Unified Threat Management Systems) that has come out in the last 3 years or so, totally changes the way you should look at “perimeter security” devices. Make sure to change the logon password (and username if it allows that).

10. Properly configured Wireless security. Hide your SSID and don’t use identifiable names such as your last name, it gives hackers a place to start hacking such as your dog’s name or phone number), use WPA2 or higher encryption and be sure the passphrase it complex, for goodness sake write it down too.

11. Tight and different passwords, yes different ones. One everything from your Wireless router (not the access but the actual router), to the UTM/router to email and Facebook and your bank account to your favorite shopping sites, use different passwords for each one. I know that it is difficult to remember them all so write them down but for the sake of love, don’t put them under your keyboard. Put them in a logical place that you can get to easily (not your safe under the 1987 tax returns) but also not where your niece will look (even though she says she was not snooping).

12. Don’t read every email that comes to you, if you did not expect it, don’t open it, if you know who it is from but it is a link only or with a 1 sentence message, don’t open it. “Knock knock”, “who is it?” “Land shark”.

Dana Scully was told by Deep throat in The Erlenmeyer Flask, “Trust no-one” How about we hold to that thought for a while?

If you would like to see more in depth articles on the above topics, drop me a line and I will see what I can do.

If you are in the Greene, Christian, Taney County area of Missouri, my company can provide the above services for your entire business, so rop me a line.

Until we meet again, have a virus free week.


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  1. Pingback: The actual steps to cleaning malware from your computer

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