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Happy New Year!

January 07, 2013 at 12:01 AM

Happy New Year!

  

It’s another New Year and another chance to start afresh, or that’s at least what we say to ourselves each New Year’s Day. With this new beginning, comes a list of new resolutions.

 

When it comes to protecting your computer from security threats, here’s a list of helpful ideas you might want to resolve to use this year.

 

Low Tech

 

1. Back up your data often and secure it in a safe place. Most home users can get away with a weekly or biweekly backup. Most home users, however, don’t take the additional step of storing their removable, backup drive offsite or in a fireproof/theft proof safe. You have to consider fire and theft as plausible. I know because I was a victim of theft and lost my computer and external drive to bad guys.

 

2. Use a dependable storage device. Most portable hard drives are only guaranteed for 2-3 years, so don’t store any critical data, like baby photos or tax return information on drives older than 3 years.

 

3. Build in redundancy. Critical data needs to be backed up to more than one storage device or site. I learned this one the hard way. Think about using an online service and a removable drive. You can also back up to more than one drive and keep one drive at a neighbours and the other in a safe place at home.

 

4. Only surf safe sites. Phishing sites were once the only threat out there. Now there are threats from way more damaging schemes like keylogging and ransomware.

 

 High Tech

 

1. Install anti-keylogging software if you do online banking or ecommerce transactions. MAC users even have to take precautions against MAC keylogging threats. For example, the flashback Trojan shook the MAC world in the spring of 2012.

 

2. Install anti-ransomware software if you don’t restrict family members or employees from visiting potentially harmful web sites, e,g. porn, social networking or online game sites.

 

3. Upgrade from the free stuff.  Microsoft’s Security Essentials might not provide you with the level of security you need. Also, many freeware options are camouflaged to infect your machine with anything from spyware to ransomeware.

 

4. Consider protecting your mobile device. Cybercriminals are beginning to open up a whole new frontier in mobile device attacks. Almost “all new mobile malware was directed at the Android platform. The mix included SMS-sending malware, mobile botnets, spyware, and destructive Trojans" writes Dana Kerr of CNET news.

 

In the old days, we had to protect our PCs from threats that would crash our systems or ruin or hardware. Today, malicious threats are created to fly under your radar so you don’t even know they’re there. These security threats are intended to steal our identities and financial information so bad guys can financially gain from their ill-gotten booty.

 

Keeping this in mind, take the time at the beginning of this new start to take stock of what you have on your computer(s) and do a proper risk assessment so you can take the proper steps to safeguard your PC and the important data you rely on.

  



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Marc Arellano

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Marc Arellano teaches communication at Okanagan College in British Columbia, Canada. He has worked as a technical writer, editor and copy writer.His current academic interests focus on computer-mediated communication and the effects of new media on culture.

Marc Arellano enseigne les communications au Collège de l'Okanagan en Colombie-Britannique. Il a travaillé en tant que rédacteur, éditeur et concepteur-rédacteur. Ses intérêts académiques actuels mettent l'emphase sur la communication au moyen d'un ordinateur et sur l'effet des nouveaux médias sur la culture.


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