Protecting yourself online

There is an increasing variety of method being used against us to gather data, steal things, and more.  In this ongoing series of posts I want to cover some of the places where you can get information to help you stay safe.

Once you have all your software up to date and you have a system in place to keep yourself that way, lets add some protection. Many of the attacks against computers are indirect.  The attack has shifted to attacking the person using the computer.  It might be a dodgy advertisement on late night TV or cable.  Or and ad on a web site.  Do not believe it!  We are seeing more and more telephone calls with people pretending to be Microsoft, etc..   There are extortion rackets where you are called and they say that you are infected, etc..  Fake NSA, Fake FBI, the scams go on and on.

Be careful when using the Internet, email, messaging.  Do NOT click on links,  do NOT run software you do not know where it came from.  Be very careful on social networking sites, and with email that appears to be from friends.  “When in doubt; do not Click!”  Here are some online resources to help:

http://www.microsoft.com/protect/default.aspx

http://www.onguardonline.gov/

http://www.staysafeonline.org/

 

 

Improve your PC security for free!

We are seeing a growing number  of instances of bad software called crime-ware.  This software pretends to do things like prevent virus or network attacks; but really does not.  The software then tries to extort money from the user to “fix” the problems that are not there.  This software sometimes installs other bad software and can stop you from using your computer normally. Here is how to prevent or greatly reduce  most of these threats from infecting your computer.

Modern operating systems for home computers have the ability to separate data for users by having multiple accounts.  This allows each user to have their own “private” space on the computer.  You can use this ability to improve computer security.

Setup an administrator account with a good password and have that password written down in a safe place so you do not forget it.  Make sure you can log in and out of this account before going any further!  NOTE: Do not use this password for anything else!

Create accounts for every user on the computer making those accounts “standard user” accounts.  Ensure that each account has a password.  Change any existing accounts from administrator to “standard user” and ensure they have passwords set

These accounts will not be able to install software without the administrator password. As a side benefit most bad software (mal-ware) cannot install either as the operating system will require an administrator to install!

It really is OK to write that password down and keep it in a safe place!

 

CrashPlan backup for you and your family

In the quest for small business and personal backup there are many choices.  Depending upon the problem set Crashplan provides something different to help keep our systems backed up.  Crashplan software can run in three modes.  Backup to a local drive, backup to their Internet based servers or backup to another computer or a friends computer.  What is nice about this solution you can backup to other drives and other computers for no cost.  Each family member can have a drive and the system will backup over the internet between the different computers.  The data is encrypted before it leaves your computer so that it is reasonably safe being stored outside of your office or home.  You can simply have local and offsite backup for your MAC or PC using one software package. Crashplan also has their "+"  and "pro" services where you also backup to their servers for a "nominal".  Depending upon your personal or business needs this service is very valuable.

 

 

-RJF