Computer Security 101
People who ignore computer security are also the ones who get infected with viruses, spyware, Trojans, and so on.
Compare it to locking your car. If you never lock your car and you visit enough public places, eventually someone will steal something from it or possibly even steal the car itself. Oftentimes they will ignore security saying “well, I haven’t been infected YET, so why should I worry?”. This is what we call “denial” and will, eventually, result in an expensive repair bill or a lot of wasted hours rebuilding your machine.
FACT OR MYTH? Macs are immune to viruses.
MYTH! Macs also get viruses and other malware. The Mac operating system is built on a UNIX platform now and that opened it up to many more viruses. The very first viruses were UNIX based, in case you didn’t know! Do not believe for one second the myth that you are immune. Instead, realize (and relish!) that there are MANY LESS viruses that impact Mac, but also realize that number is growing substantially with the success of the Mac platform.
Below are each of the mandatory aspects of computer security that need to addressed for home or business:
A firewall is a program or device which “blocks” the bad guys by closing the ports (think of them as “windows”) that are not needed. Every single machine should have a firewall installed and activated whether it is for home or business.
One is built into the Windows operating system (Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7) and simply needs to be turned on. You can also purchase commercial programs which are more advanced (Norton 360 is a nice one).
Alternatively, you can purchase a hardware appliance. For home, there are inexpensive products from Linksys or for business Sonicwall and Cisco have a good lineup. However, many vendors (especially internet providers) like to claim they give you a “firewall” when instead they give you another device which isn’t a “real” firewall. Make sure it is ICSA certified then you know it’s “real”.
Every operating system (Windows, Mac, Unix, Linux, etc) has flaws. Once those flaws are uncovered, the bad guys use them to cause trouble. You need to update your machine regularly – daily would be good – and most systems allow you to do this automatically. Do this, without fail, and it will reduce your risk substantially.
Any good program Antivirus/Antispyware program (sometimes they are combined into one) cost you around $50/yr for a subscription. Beware the free ones, oftentimes you get what you pay for and there is some limitation that you may or may not be aware of. Usually, the free ones are good for a “one-time” scan but don’t provide protection 24×7. Another “catch” is they will do Antivirus but not Antispyware or vice versa (you need both!)
You need to make sure you have one, you keep up the subscription, and you make sure it scans DAILY. Check it every once in a while and make sure it’s working!
Why a subscription? Well, new viruses come out every hour. Someone has to monitor these, find ways to squash them, and then get that update to your computer. That costs money and that’s why a subscription fee.
Many viruses over the last 12 months have been “user inflicted”. Meaning, you clicked on some link or email that was actually a virus message in disguise and you gave your computer permission to install it. Well… you asked for it! the virus makers are resorting to “Social Engineering” which means that they will tell you anything you want to hear, to get you to install a program for them, circumventing your antivirus.
The best approach, especially in business, is to have multiple layers to your security systems.
- Have a hardware appliance firewall AND a software one on each computer.
- Have a hardware firewall which provides gateway antivirus and antispyware AND have software loaded on each machine.
- Have security updates controlled from a central server (Microsoft provides a product called WSUS which is FREE to do this) so you can control and monitor update compliance.
- Use the latest web browsers, such as Internet Explorer v8 which employ anti-phising techniques – these block some of the bad sites you were tricked into going to.
If you believe you or your company are in need of a solution, please feel free to call us at (847) 430-4900