In today’s increasingly digital world, there are many potential threats to the security of your computer systems. Every PC connected to the Internet can be a target of:
- Viruses (code that attaches to files)
- RootKits (malicious software activated each time your PC boots up)
- Adware (pop-ups; redirects web search results)
- Phishing (email/fake websites designed to trick you into disclosing personal information)
There are a number of ways for the everyday PC user to end up with one of these problems on his/her system:
- Visiting an infected website
- Opening spam email or unfamiliar email attachment
- Downloading “free” stuff – games, toolbars, media players, and other system utilities
- Sharing file, music or photos with others
- Installing mainstream software applications without fully reading the license agreements
Avoiding the above activities is an important first step toward keeping your computer systems secure, but here are seven other red flags you may want to pay attention to:
Have a good hardware firewall router. A good firewall is designed to permit or deny network traffic based on rules that you as the business owner can set according to your preferences. It functions to prevent unauthorized access while permitting legitimate communications to pass. When shopping for a hardware firewall router, look for one with Denial of Service (DoS) protection and that uses Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) to protect your network.
Keep your anti-virus/spyware programs updated. New viruses and spyware come out daily, so it is very important to keep your protection software updated. It should be noted, though, that it can take the software companies some time to respond effectively to the new viruses and spyware, so precaution still needs to be taken with email attachments and websites. Aim to update your anti-virus software daily.
Have an anti-spyware program. Spyware can be just as dangerous as viruses to your computer, as they secretly collect pieces of information about you. This can open you up to identity theft and credit card fraud. When it comes to anti-spyware software, update and run scans at least weekly.
Keep your web browser updated. Patches are coming out much more frequently for web browsers, so it is a good idea to update the software as often as they are available. Familiarize yourself with the built-in safe surfing features and tweak the settings to ensure a high degree of protection. Check for browser updates weekly.
Keep Microsoft Windows updated. Patch management is key to keeping your systems secure. Microsoft sends out security updates once a month on “Patch Tuesday” (2nd Tuesday of the month). These include patches for the operating system, other Windows components, and Microsoft Office, as well as Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender. Aim to run Windows Update every “Patch Tuesday.”
Don’t click on pop-ups. It’s shiny and pretty, and it’s making an enticing promise, but please don’t click on that pop-up! Even if the pop-up is from Adobe, Java, or another software company for some sort of update, don’t do it! Instead, go directly to the website to update your software.
Don’t click on a link in an email. This goes especially for emails from a bank, credit card company, or other financial service such as eBay or PayPal. By clicking on the link, you run the risk of sharing your personal information with the world. Don’t trust email links; instead, go directly to the website by opening a new browser session. The same goes for email from any social media sites.
John Kalli is the CEO of Trinity Worldwide Technologies LLC. They are a Microsoft Certified Partner and Small Business Specialist serving the New Jersey market since 2002. To inquire about their services and to see if you qualify for a NO cost, NO obligation assessment of your business’ technology, you can call them at 732-780-8615 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.