Defending Your Digital Castle
There was a time when computers were considered a tool of convenience. Now, computers are an indispensable part of daily life. At home, computers are used as the primary means to communicate with family and friends. Banking is done online. Your family pictures likely exist solely on the hard drive of your computer.
In the business world, technology is so critical that an outage often means a complete productivity standstill. Shops cannot complete transactions if the credit card machine cannot access the internet. Even the phone on your desk can be affected by an internet outage.
When your daily life depends on computers and technology, it’s crucial that you protect your data and privacy. These are part of your digital domain. A proper defense can help keep you protected.
A moated computer is one that is patched and updated frequently. Like a castle moat, it may not stop a determined attacker but it prevents your computer from being an easy target.
Most modern systems automatically update as needed; however, you should occasionally take the time to verify that everything is updating as expected. Older systems – such as Windows 7 – may not update automatically unless specifically configured to do so. In addition to OS updates, it’s also important to update the drivers on your computer since machine-specific drivers are usually not installed by Windows.
And don’t forget about your other applications! Some applications (like Java) are notoriously insecure and updates are released regularly. Be sure to check for updates to programs like Java, Chrome, Firefox, Adobe software, etc.
You may want to read the article TLC for Your CPU, which also discusses this topic.
A determined attacker will find a way to the castle walls, even if the castle is surrounded by a moat. It’s important to ensure the walls can withstand the onslaught. In this case, the walls are defensive tools such as antivirus and a firewall.
A good antivirus program is essential. The specific program you use is not very important, but you should make sure it’s a reputable product. For example, avoid products like *Super Virus Squisher 2000*. Once the program is installed, make sure the product is updated at least daily and runs a full scan at least weekly.
To further protect your computer and network, you should have a firewall connected to your internet connection. You probably already have one if you’re using a wireless router; however, if your computer connects directly to a cable modem then you may not be protected. Internet firewalls are effective and inexpensive, so if you don’t have one you should get one.
In addition to your network firewall, you should enable the firewall on your computer. Both Windows and Apple have built-in firewalls, which can be accessed from the security section in your computer’s settings.
You may have the widest, deepest moat and the highest, thickest walls but these fortifications won’t help if you lower the drawbridge. Serious problems are usually the result of a person “lowering the drawbridge”.
These are just a few of the common mistakes that can have devastating results:
- Clicking on suspicious email links (phishing)
- Visiting questionable web pages
- Indiscriminately entering personal information on a shared or public computer
- Allowing the “Microsoft Support” guy to remotely access your computer
Regardless of your diligence in protecting your computer, these mistakes effectively invite the attacker in, allowing the attacker to bypass your security. To be safe, just delete email messages you aren’t sure about. Make it a habit to use “private browsing” features (such as Chrome’s “Incognito” mode or Microsoft’s “InPrivate” mode) when on shared computers. And remember that Microsoft will never call you to help with your computer.
There was a time when nasty, news-breaking viruses did nothing more than spread recklessly through your email system. Today’s viruses can be downright terrifying. For example, ransomware can lock up all your files, forcing you pay a ransom to get the key to unlock the files. Remote access trojans can enable your webcam without your knowledge and broadcast the video across the internet. Many people are left in ruins as a result of identity theft.
While it’s impossible to guarantee the security of any computer, these three things will go a long way toward securing your castle:
- Keep OS, drivers and software patched and updated
- Using a good antivirus program and firewalls
- Avoid suspicious emails, websites, and phone calls
If you need help defending your castle, we can help! In addition to providing and maintaining updates and antivirus for your computers, we can even help you and your employees learn to safely navigate the internet. We’ll help secure your castle so you can concentrate on your business.
E Squared C is a managed service provider (MSP) providing professional IT services for businesses in Nevada and California. By partnering with E2C, your business gains a team of experts who solve IT problems with reliable, efficient, and secure IT management services. Contact us to find out how our experts can help your business!
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