In our last Blog we talked about some easy ways to manage your computer passwords to prevent hackers from accessing your information. After making that smart first-step, it then makes sense to consider measures to protect your overall computer system and network from hackers, viruses, and spyware and ransomware. The threat is very real, and resolving a problem once it occurs is much more difficult than taking steps to prevent one.
If you are finding that strange things are happening with your computer – software applications are suddenly not working right, the system is freezing up or going super slow, or you are getting “Your files are encrypted” messages – your computer may already be infected with a computer virus or malware.
If you have been a little lazy about keeping up with updates, not so disciplined about having a good-quality antivirus software, or slacking about backing up your files, your computer is ready for a security overhaul!
The right computer security protocol should:
- Protect your computer devices and network from internet threats
- Provide email security
- Ensure your IOS and software applications are patched and up to date
- Back up your system and files
Antivirus software provides real-time protection against unauthorized software or code attempting to hack into your system. This might include viruses, trojans, worms, spyware/malware, or ransomware. These “infected” files can slow down your processing speed, delete files and access personal data, or even lockdown your system so you cannot access your computer at all. Good antivirus software (and yes, you get what you pay for) is an important part of detecting threats and keeping your system safe. You should use one with automatic updates so you are protecting consistently against the latest threats.
A firewall is the first step to computer security. As the name suggests, it creates a barrier between your computer and any unauthorized program attempting to come through the internet and access your system. If your system has a built in firewall, keep it permanently turned on; however, you may still require good software for thorough firewall protection.
Email security should not be overlooked when developing a thorough computer security practice. Hackers avail themselves of your computer via X links embedded in innocuous emails, and identity theft is commonly attempted through “official looking” emails from financial institutions and government agencies.
** 9 out of 10 viruses that infect a computer reach it through an email attachment **
Make sure you use a spam filter, and use an antivirus program that scans your email attachments. Again, your firewall protection matters here as well. Bottom line, think before you click. Consider every link that comes through in an email for its legitimacy. Even if from a trusted friend because they may be sending around a virus they know nothing about. Ask yourself if it makes sense for someone to be sending you this attachment. When in doubt – do not open an attachment that seems odd!
Patches & Updates
We all do it. Once our new computer is up and running, and our software is installed, we forget about it. Unfortunately, issues with IOS and computer software arise every day after launch and the only thing a developer can do is a “patch” which is downloaded after-the-fact to fix (patch) a bug, missing code or other software problem.
To save you from constantly buying new software, companies do periodic updates for applications. Always make sure your ‘Automatic Updates’ is set on, and pay attention to keeping all your system software and applications up to date.
Data Backup & Recovery
We always ask clients, “What would you do if you lost the last 60 days of your computer data?” If the answer to this is you wouldn’t sleep for a week, then take the very manageable step of making sure you have a good backup system. When a virus gets ahold of your computer, you want to make sure you can recover your files and data as quickly as possible. Typically, backup systems combine an on-site physical backup such as an external hard-drive (disks and flash-drives are not stable enough to be considered backups), and an off-site backup. Nowadays, the easiest form of backup is a cloud-based system. There are options for file-only backup, as well as image-backup which allows you to restore your computer and files within minutes, exactly as it is setup.
Much better safe than sorry
The IT experts at Information Systems of Maine can help you ensure you have the strongest web protection installed on all your devices. We provide business-grade products that employ the right level of Firewall protection as a first defense, and the latest in antivirus, malware, spyware, and ransomware defense. We will analyze your system to determine if any threats are detected, remove any viruses and get your system running smoothly again, and monitor and maintain your protection so you are always up-to-date. Let us know how we can help you.