Protect Your Computing Devices

Protect Your Computing Devices

Your computing devices store your data and are the portal to your online life. Below is a short list of steps you can take to protect your computing devices from intrusion:

  • Keep the Firewall On – Whether it is a software firewall or a hardware firewall on a router, the firewall should be turned on and updated to prevent hackers from accessing your personal or company data. Click Windows 7, Window 8, or Windows 10 to turn on the firewall in the respective version of Windows. Click here to turn on the firewall for Mac OS X devices.
  • Use Antivirus and Antispyware – Malicious software, such as viruses, Trojan horses, worms, ransomware and spyware, are installed on your computing devices without your permission, in order to gain access to your computer and your data. Viruses can destroy your data, slow down your computer, or take over your computer. One way viruses can take over your computer is by allowing spammers to broadcast emails using your account. Spyware can monitor your online activities, collect your personal information, or produce unwanted pop-up ads on your web browser while you are online. A good rule is to only download software from trusted websites to avoid getting spyware in the first place. Antivirus software is designed to scan your computer and incoming email for viruses and delete them. Sometimes antivirus software also includes antispyware. Keep your software up to date to protect your computer from the newest malicious software.
  • Manage Your Operating System and Browser – Hackers are always trying to take advantage of vulnerabilities in your operating systems and your web browsers. To protect your computer and your data, set the security settings on your computer and browser at medium or higher. Update your computer’s operating system including your web browsers and regularly download and install the latest software patches and security updates from the vendors.
  • Protect All Your Devices – Your computing devices, whether they are PCs, laptops, tablets, or smartphones, should be password protected to prevent unauthorized access. The stored information should be encrypted, especially for sensitive or confidential data. For mobile devices, only store necessary information, in case these devices are stolen or lost when you are away from your home. If any one of your devices is compromised, the criminals may have access to all your data through your cloud-storage service provider, such as iCloud or Google drive.

IoT devices pose an even greater risk than your other computing devices. While desktop, laptop and mobile platforms receive frequent software updates, most of the IoT devices still have their original firmware. If vulnerabilities are found in the firmware, the IoT device is likely to stay vulnerable. To make the problem worse, IoT devices are often designed to call home and require Internet access. To reach the Internet, most IoT devices manufacturers rely on the customer’s local network. The result is that IoT devices are very likely to be comprised and when they are, they allow access to the customer’s local network and data. The best way to protect yourself from this scenario is to have IoT devices using an isolated network, sharing it only with other IoT devices.

Click here to visit Shodan, a web-based IoT device scanner.

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