For most users, computer security includes: workstation, network, internet, data, user. People tend to think that if their computer works and nobody is calling them to ask for money, they are safe and secure. Fact is, nobody’s computer is 100% safe and secure, and the weakest link when using a computer is you. There are many things you can do to keep your digital identity safe from violation, but one wrong click is all it takes to open up the door. You may not realize you’ve been compromised until your computer stops working, or until your credit card gets maxed out. In my business, I work with MANY people whose computers and/or networks have been impacted. The damage is worse and more expensive to fix when people are complacent about actively managing computer security. First you have to fix the damage, then protect from future negative events. Beyond repairing infections and intrusions, protecting the value and integrity of your data is most important. When your financial data is compromised, people can steal your money, identity, credit cards, financial health. If the security event crashes your hard drive, damages or locks your files, and your data isn’t properly (and redundantly) backed up, it may cost you THOUSANDS of dollars to recover.
Recommendations: (1) WORKSTATION – continually update and upgrade the software on your computer (os & apps), have your software firewall ON, have antivirus and anti-malware software installed, run scans and updates regularly, have passwords for all your user-login accounts recorded and protected. (2) NETWORK – insure that computers & devices have been properly updated and are secure (including regularly changing passwords), change your wireless network password every 30 days, (3) INTERNET – log into your internet router and make sure the firewall settings are turned ON and set to medium or high, block all ports on your router except for those in-use (direct in-use ports to specific devices on your network, get a better security firewall router (and have it installed and programmed by an experienced technician), (4) DATA – develop, implement and manage a secure-data agenda, including multiple and redundant data backups, backup all your data and regularly test backups for integrity and recoverability, USER – you are the weakest link. Create separate user-login accounts on your pc/mac, don’t click on popup windows or links in emails or web browsers, only download files from sites you are 100% certain are safe and secure (or that identify as ‘https’), don’t email account names and passwords (or credit card numbers) in a single email (break it up into 2 or 3 emails), don’t type or insert the word ‘password’ in any file or email (this is the first word scanned, shorten or abbreviate it), use secure password storage and retrieval software (or at the very least, password protect your password-document file (easily done in work or excel), use complex-password generators, and when feasible, implement two-step security logins on your accounts, upgrade your email box to Business-Class or Msft Exchange accounts (more safe and secure than free accounts). SUMMARY – There is a lot you need to do (and then to keep on doing) to protect yourself digitally. Have your computer regularly checked for security readiness and infections. If you find these ideas useful, apply them (or pay someone to do it for you).
Also, forward this post to your family, friends or work associates. I can guarantee that most people aren’t doing half of what needs to be done to adequately protect digital data online. I can also confidently state that over half of all computers are inadequately protected, or have already been compromised (it just hasn’t been discovered yet). Stay tuned – future posts will offer more ideas in safe online computing (for both yourselves and your kids). PAUL