In the ever-growing online world we see new threats emerge every day. More people and businesses are getting compromised every day. We’ve put together a short list of things we consider to be the minimum when it comes to securing your home computer.
1. Install an antivirus solution.
There are plenty of antivirus applications to choose from. Over 200 I believe! Every year, a different antivirus is considered the best choice. In 2019, the top antivirus applications are Bitdefender, Webroot, and Symantec Norton. We wouldn’t recommend using the built-in Windows antivirus, Windows Defender, because we’ve seen too many attacks that were not detected by this security solution.
2. Update the operating system and set updates to be applied automatically.
Check your operating system to confirm that you have the most recent updates installed. 2018 and 2019 have been active years for malware and exploits for the Windows operating system. Simply installing an update can mean the difference between having your computer hacked or not. While you are checking for updates, make sure your auto update setting is enabled.
3. Use a strong and unique password.
Available to all attackers, are lists of passwords that are downloadable plaintext files. These files contain over a billion passwords built from passwords that have been seen in the past from compromised companies and individuals. The key to having a good password is make sure it’s not on a list like that. There are two ways to do that:
a. Use a passphrase which is 3 or more words that will form a long unguessable password. (Feel free to misspell the words here, it’ll help the strength of your password!)
b. Google and download a popular password list from github and check for yourself to see if your password is on the list. (A good starting point, that we use for our clients, can be found here)
4. Avoid using public WiFi.
Sometimes we need public WiFi at places like Starbucks, Walmart, and the Airport but connecting to it should be done with care. When connected do not email personal or sensitive information, do not login to sensitive sites (i.e. your bank), and don’t buy anything. Most internet traffic is encrypted but this encryption can be circumvented exposing your sensitive data.
If you find yourself frequently connecting to public wifi, we would recommend getting a data plan for your phone to use as a WiFi tether or sign up for a private VPN service that will send all your communications and transactions through an encrypted tunnel (We personally like one called Private Internet Access). The service is a few dollars a month, and installation/configuration is very quick and simple.
5. Use a “Standard User” account for daily use.
Generally speaking, if you click on something that executes on your computer, the application is running using your account’s privileges. What this means is that if you click something while using an administrator account, the file will execute as an administrator and have the permission to install itself. We recommend that you don’t use an account on your computer with administrator privileges for your daily use. Unfortunately, Microsoft makes your account the administrator account by default.
Therefore, we recommend that you follow this easy guide (here) for setting up a separate administrator account.
Switching to a “Standard User” account is not as daunting as it may seem. If you want to run an application that requires administrative access while using the “Standard User” account you will simply get a prompt for the administrator password.
BONUS! If you are a business and need added security, contact us about
Our company has developed a security application that complements antivirus solutions. This application keeps malicious files from executing when a user double-clicks on them. By targeting the method of attack, PhishDefy can protect your company’s computers against zero-day (brand new) malware, malicious email attachments, and files accidentally downloaded.