In today’s world, everyone has computers. We have Desktops, notebooks, laptops, tablets, iPads, iPhones, Androids and anything else that may be invented or used. Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew that all this “technology” was secure, reliable and backed-up?
Now you are saying, to yourself, it is! Well, is it? Are you sure? Maybe if you are a part of a large organization with a large IT staff you can say it is, or can you? You know as well as I do that a large company that has an IT staff has other things to do besides make sure your information is secure, reliable and backed-up. They are focusing on the big picture, which is where the big money is. They want to be sure the network is secure, that the “mission critical” programs are working and protected and that nothing is going to impact the servers. Who is watching the little stuff? Besides, who has that kind of staff anymore? Small businesses certainly do not.
Below we have 10 areas of your computer to watch.
Is there a perfect world out there? Certainly not. Is there a way to be sure that nothing unexpected will happen to your computer or information? Certainly not.
You can do everything possible to protect your house or apartment but there is nothing you can do that will guarantee that no one will ever be able to bypass your systems. But you can be prepared by installing an alarm system, locks, cameras and protecting yourself. Being prepared and aware is always a good idea. Depending on where you live will determine the extent you need to prepare and how much money you have will also be a factor.
The same is true of your computer. Where you go on the Internet will determine your level of risk these days. What you buy and how much you shop on the Internet will be a factor. The amount of information you store on your computer and the nature of the information will be a factor.
Very often I get comments like “there is nothing on my computer that someone would want”. In some cases that may be true but many people do not know what the “bad guys” want or what they can do with your computer and you not know it.
On Christmas night, my son and his family went home after being at our house all day. The carried in much of their new found goodies but left a little out in the truck, knowing they would get it in the morning. That night a gang of thieves came through the neighborhood and broke into many cars and trucks. They stole my son’s iPad. They did not take his $1,000 Drone Helicopter or his iPhone. All they wanted was the iPad. The same may be true of your computer. They may not want the information on the computer; they may want the computer and the ability to distribute information to the world from your system. This way when the authorities track down that the information is coming from your system, they will not be in trouble – you are their buffer.
So how do you protect yourself from all this? What is the answer? What am I watching for and how do I deal with it when it happens – if I notice it?
Below we have 10 areas of your computer to watch.
1. The desktop looks and acts the way you expect it to look – no surprises.
Are there some new icons on your desktop that you have not seen before? Has your background changed? Does it just look different but you are not sure why? You should be in control of your desktop and know what is added and removed from it. Unexpected changes can be a sign that you have something going on that is not expected.
2. When you open, your Internet Browser does, your regular page appear.
For instance if your home page is Google.com and you open it and now you see a advertisement below the search entry field, that is different and not something you want to have. Maybe you have some other web page that comes up that is not normal, and you did not expect, you need to pay attention to that.
3. There are no POP-UPS that appear unexpectedly
If you have start having pop-ups when on the Internet, this is a problem. Again, you do not want surprises on your computer – they usually are not good surprises.
You are sure that your information, that would be needed if everything is lost, is backed up and can be restored when you want and need it.
This is a little more than just something is different. This requires a little work from time to time but is worth the effort. Make sure your back-up has something on it but trying to restore a file from your back-up.
4. You have an antivirus program installed and you know it is working
I went on a call the other day because something was just not right on a new customer’s computer. When I got there, I found a number of things that all led to viruses and the computer had many issues – most of them virus related. She had McAfee installed and working. Just because you have a virus program and it is working does not mean you will not have problems.
5. All of your programs are current and up to date, all the time and you know it.
All of your programs need to be kept current or you need to remove them. Flash, Reader, Java, Office, Windows, QuickBooks, and any other programs you have need to be regularly updated and checked. Just because you have it set to update automatically does not mean it is happening.
6. When you open a website page on your computer, know you will not be surprised at what appears.
Have you ever searched for something on the internet and something bad came up that you were not expecting? Content management is not just for children. We are installing content management on many home and business computers. Sometimes the liability is just too much.
7. When you see an email, do you know if it should be opened or not and if you open something you should not, you know it will be OK?
Phishing is very popular now because it works. If a phishing email is sent 10 times there is a 90% chance it will be opened. Do you have software that helps protect you and you identity?
8. You know for a fact that no one is using your computer without you knowing it?
This is probably the most scary problem you could have and most people do not even know about it. At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that people will tell me “there is nothing on my computer that someone would want”. They may want your computer to do the following:
Use it as a Phishing server
Send out webmail spam
Distribute program license keys
Reputation hacking server
Distribution of banking and credit card information
Data hostage attacks where your computer has the key to unlock their data (you are part of the hostage attack)
And many other uses.
You may be thinking, so what? Well if the information is located on your computer and your computer is being used to distribute or receive the information, and the computer is in your house or business, who do you think the FBI is going to suspect first?
9. Your computer is reliable, and you know that when you need it, it will be ready and ready to help you make the best use of your time.
You would not buy a car that may or may not start and use it as you only form of transportation. All of the things listed above can impact your ability to get your work done when you want it do it.
10. When someone says that they lost information on their computer, you know that that would not happen to you.
It is rare that a computer loses information – unless it has something that is designed to destroy the information – like a virus.
Maintaining a computer is not for a lot of people. Many people do not have the time or the interest in taking care of this piece of equipment, just like they will not work on their car. It is important to maintain your computer for many reasons.
- You have time invested in the information on your system
- There are pictures that could never be replaced
- The number one way Identity is stolen is through a computer
- Computers are mechanical and your hard drive spins at 7,200 RPMs – they will break
- You want to protect your reputation
- You do not want to get in trouble with the authorities
- You do not want to be accused by the police or your family member of doing something you are not doing
In past articles I have talked about all these things and solutions to all of them. You may be a do it yourself person or someone that hires it done. Either way, you need to pay attention to that little box that has become the center of our information world.