Avoid Online Bloodsuckers This Halloween

There are thousands of ghouls and goblins running amuck around the internet. They include actual people who “want to suck your blood”  a-hem…. “want to get your data.”

How do you know if your computers and networks are secure from these online bloodsuckers?

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There are several aspects to security: virus detection, other malware detection, firewalls, secured VPNs, program updates, passwords, policies to enforce safe computing habits, etc. If all you do is surf the internet for fun and you just want to keep your computer running, there is little reason for a heavy-duty fire wall. That would be overkill. Conversely, if you hold confidential company data on your computer and it is connected to the internet, you should consider your security risks with rigor.

The first step? Assess your risk levels and vulnerabilities. Preliminary testing can be accomplished with online scanners that will check for vulnerabilities in your system. Then, you can determine your priorities and establish appropriate procedures and solutions to ensure the safety of your network and data.

Here is a list of generally recommended practices to ensure the best bare minimum security (in no particular order):

  1. Change your passwords frequently and use a password keeping tool (My favorite is Lastpass).
  2. Wireless networks are generally a security hole. Make sure you take security precautions when using a wireless network.
  3. Change your Administrator Username on your network to something not so obvious.
  4. Keep up with the latest security service patches from Microsoft and your other software vendors.
  5. Establish Acceptable Use Policies, even in small offices. This will indicate concerns in terms of access for your employees, as well as provide some protection to you as an employer.
  6. Frequently update virus definitions.
  7. Scan for other Malware (adware, spyware, viruses) on a regular basis (Malwarebytes, Spybot Search and Destroy, and Housecall).
  8. Update the firmware on your firewalls and other networking hardware to the most recent, stable version.
  9. Perform Fire Drills on your data backups. (If you need a good one, let me know and I can help you determine the best options for you).

Safe surfing and Happy Halloween!

— Mark Espena, CSI Onsite