Want to know how to protect your computer from malware? Well, there are many threats out there today and more coming tomorrow that could possibly infect your computer. Most of these today encrypt all of the data that they can touch (which makes the data worthless to you, you can’t open any pictures or documents). They often want you to pay them and you may or may not get the decryption key to get your data back. Below are some things that you can do to try to protect yourself from these threats.
1. Do your updates!
Microsoft, Apple, Java, and Adobe (just to name the big ones) release updates often that fix the vulnerabilities that these viruses use to get into your computer.
2. Don’t click on links inside emails
If you don’t know the sender, don’t click on anything within the email. Microsoft says that 44.8% of viruses that affect Windows happen because the user clicked on something.
Often email’s are becoming a very hard thing to judge anymore. Some of these imitate Amazon emails or different providers like UPS and FedEx, stuff that we all use regularly. They target us because they know that if we see an email that comes from Amazon about an order, we’re very likely to click on it to find out what the update is.
The recommended action when it comes to this, it to (not click on anything in the email) and go to the website in your browser and log in there (completely separate from the email). Once there you should be able to find the order status update or whatever the email was trying to convince you of.
We have a solution provided through Sophos where we can target your users within your organization to test, track, and then train the users who click on things in emails that they shouldn’t. If you’re interested, please reach out to us for more information and a quote.
3. Use Anti-virus software
This seems like a no-brainer, but there are a lot of unprotected computers out there. Each unprotected computer puts even more at risk, once a computer is infected they download all useful data to find all of their connections (friends, family, co-workers, etc..) and then begins to target them to see who else they can infect.
We currently provide Symantec, a leader in threat protection. If you’re interested please let us know. For home users who don’t want to pay for it, please use a free one like Avast. We do not recommend any free anti-virus for business (or personal really) because if there aren’t ad’s how are they paying for that service for you? Someone had to and continues to have to do some work for that service you’re using.
4. Back up your computer
Do regular backups of your data that is on your computer. I commonly tell people, if you don’t care if you lost it today, don’t back it up. But if you want to keep it if something were to happen to your computer, back it up!
The most common problem that we see, is that people will want to do it themselves to flash drives, or external hard drives, which is a good solution. However, you should not leave these plugged into your computer all the time. If you get a virus and your backup device is attached, that is also going to be encrypted or deleted.
There are many services out there that provide backups for home users you could even use something as simple as Google Drive or Dropbox. For businesses we highly recommend an enterprise backup service. The most common issue with the super cheap services isn’t the actual backup. It’s in the data recovery if needed. We have found many customers with lots of data and just couldn’t ever get it all back because the restore would fail.
We provide backup services to our customers, the data is backed up locally and we will never have issues restoring small or large files. Our backup uses versioning and AES 256 encryption to protect your data in transit and in storage. If you’re interested, please contact us for more information.
5. Use strong passwords
See our other post on using passphrases instead of passwords here.
6. Use a firewall
Just using an anti-virus is great, but a lot of them don’t include firewalls, Windows and Mac’s both have built-in firewalls, ensure they’re turned on if your AV doesn’t have it’s own. Often if the AV has it’s own, it will disable the built-in firewall.
Note: Mac’s do not come standard with the firewall turned on
7. Watch what you download
Always know exactly what and from where you are download stuff from. We all need to install software to get through our day-to-day. Just be aware of where you are and what you are downloading. If you’re using a good anti-virus they will scan the file when you download it and generally tell you if it is safe or not. Yet another reason to have a good AV.
I hope you all stay safe out there. If you have questions feel free to reach out to us!
For information on how we can help you protect your computer visit our Managed Services Page.