general computer protection strategies to employ
In addition to buying software for anti-hacking and anti-virus protection, there are a number of additional strategies that you can employ on your computer and as you operate your computer to help protect it against intrusion and to protect your information wherever you may choose to let it reside. Here's a list of some tips that will help you.
Turn off or logout of your computer when not using it - the less time your computer is online, the less it is being seen by externals that may mean you harm.
If you have more than one person in your household using your computer, set up separate "firewalled" accounts for each of them - don't let people onto your system through your own login and password.
Keep your anti-virus software as current as you can. Update it regularly so that you are protected against the newer viruses that have been identified and have been guarded against by your anti-virus software provider.
Increase the privacy settings on your computer. In an upcoming lecture, I show you how to update these settings if you are using Windows 10. Watch that video as well and also be looking to update your privacy settings on older versions of Windows if that is what you are running on your computer.
Be careful opening PDF files you receive from external sources. Hackers and software virus creators have in recent times found this to be an effective platform for sending out their damage causing payloads.
Regarding e-mails, don't be curious. If you don't know where an e-mail came from, don't open it. If you do open an e-mail from someone you don't know and/or that you received in an unsolicited manner, do not click on any links found within the e-mail. Executable viruses are sometimes attached to what you think is just a link to another site.
If you are concerned about the authenticity of an e-mail address when you have received an e-mail, check it out by looking at the "Details" dropdown you can click next to the e-mail name. I have sometimes even taken this one step further by checking out their e-mail domain address using a domain provider to do a "Who Is" search when I am really wondering about where something came from.
Be careful of all downloads to your computer. Be sure you know the source is safe and you are on a real webpage belonging to that source when you download the content. Hackers are now setting up "Fake" webpages that look like real businesses to lure you in so that they can access you through downloads from their sites.
Using the "Cloud" for storage is risky - even places like Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. can be hacked. Cloud storage locations seem to be prime targets for hackers. These are convenient storage and data backup locations for many so if you want to use them, here are a few tips that could save the privacy of your content there.
o The simplest protection method is to only send encrypted or Zipped content up there for storage. If you are using zip files, use the Zip password feature before sending. This helps to protect your content even if that site gets hacked.
o Encrypt your important files on your computer first before sending them to the cloud. In fact, it is a good idea to only store your important files on your computer in encrypted formats only even when they reside on your computer. Encryption products like MEGA and SpiderOak can help you here. If you are really working with sensitive content regularly, you can also implement products like encFS - it takes a couple of hours to install, but it can setup folders on your computer that automatically encode all files you move there. This folder and its subsets look and behave just like normal folders on your PC so once installed, encryption is automatic for you.
Use of plugins such as webcams and microphones. Set your privacy settings to disallow applications to use them on your PC and disconnect external microphones and webcams when not in use. It is not that difficult for an external to get into most systems and take control of these devices to watch you or record you as you do things in and around your computer.
If you are on a Microsoft platform, consider installing their free application - "The Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit." Microsoft Quote: "The Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) is a utility that helps prevent vulnerabilities in software from being successfully exploited. EMET achieves this goal by using security mitigation technologies. These technologies function as special protections and obstacles that an exploit author must defeat to exploit software vulnerabilities. These security mitigation technologies do not guarantee that vulnerabilities cannot be exploited. However, they work to make exploitation as difficult as possible to perform. EMET also provides a configurable SSL/TLS certificate pinning feature that is called Certificate Trust. This feature is intended to detect (and stop, with EMET 5.0) man-in-the-middle attacks that are leveraging the public key infrastructure (PKI)."
When you are out browsing websites that you may be clicking content and links on, be looking for https sites where you can - but don't just trust the (s) on the end of the URL's http. Click on the associated lockbox to check out the legitimacy of the security certificate details for the webpage being explored.
Scorpion System Protection is an anti-hacking software product you may consider purchasing. Built to support Microsoft, the NIST, DoD, and Homeland Security remote access standards, this product will help increase the security of your computer to Government usage standards.
Sandboxie is a protection application you can purchase for both home and business use. It is a good place to run new software you have concerns about using plus it has a lot of great other features. Sandboxie uses isolation technology to separate programs from your underlying operating system preventing unwanted changes from happening to your personal data, programs and applications that rest safely on your hard drive.
When surfing the Internet, never login from your computer while in Administrator mode on your computer. You do not want this login information to be shared out there in Cyberspace. Only go to the Internet from user accounts you have set up on your computer.
In summary, implementing some or all of these ideas on your computer and in your online life will go a long way to protecting you. That's all for this article. Bye for now.
By Dan Grijzenhout - December 20, 2016
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