Home Network & Device Upkeep

Those of us fortunate enough to have dedicated IT staffs don’t have to think too much about backups, computer updates and anti-virus scans. But these upkeep basics don’t have to be out of the everyday home user’s reach. Here are a couple suggestions to keep your computer running smoothly and your data safe.

  1. Backups. If you have data you can’t afford to lose, you should really consider setting a backup schedule for yourself. This can be as simple as setting up a Google Drive to sync with files on your computer to running full disk images via your operating system or something like Acronis. If you don’t like the idea of putting your data in the cloud, think about an external hard drive that you can connect, back up your data and then remove the device and place in a fire safe or safety deposit box.
  2. Anti-virus. Every windows PC these days comes with a built-in anti-virus program but there are many others you can choose from. All of them are decent and none of them are perfect. The most important thing with anti-virus is to set those programs to automatically update so they have the most up-to-date virus definitions and also to set a scan schedule. Despite our best efforts and the real-time detection that these platforms offer it’s still a good practice to have a scheduled scan weekly, if not daily.
  3. Software updates. I know software updates can sometimes be a pain. When you try to open a program and you get a notification that a new version is available, it’s easy enough to sometimes dismiss the reminder and ignore the update. I really encourage you to take the time and let the updates run their course. There are few software platforms out there that haven’t been or aren’t currently the target of hacking attempts. Developers are constantly working to maintain interoperability and security. Denying your computer the ability to update to the most recent and secure software may put your computer and files at risk.

If these steps seem like too much, there are still people that can help you. 702 Communications offers managed services that include backup and anti-virus software. We can even install a monitoring agent to make sure your software says up-to-date. For more information on those services, call us at 218.284.5702 or explore our site for more info.

I hope this post will inspire you to secure your own data!

Brian Crommett
702 Communications

Hacked. Now What?

First, what are a few ways hackers find their way into a device or accounts?

Unfortunately, there are lots of ways for hackers to find their way into our computers and our accounts. The software and apps we use are in a constant state of change. Sometimes, as developers work to maintain interoperability, opportunities arise for a hacker to exploit a change and access your computer.

Other times it’s a result of something users do themselves. We talked about this previously about opening emails that aren’t legit. Some of those emails may contain a payload that, once opened, deploys malware on your system. And, of course, hackers can always buy your password online. If you’re not diligent about password security, you could easily be hacked.

What should I be most concerned about a hacker gaining access to?

I think most people would say they’re concerned about a hacker gaining access to anything at all. But the biggest threat to an organization would be losing security of their customer’s private or financial information. As a consumer, I’d say the biggest concern would be your own financial information, but we’ve seen plenty of people lose private photos and videos that can be used to extort or embarrass.

What should be done immediately after learning the device or account is hacked?

If you have a hacked device, you need to take it offline as quickly as possible. If the device can’t transmit your personal information, you’ve got a compromised device but your information may not have been compromised yet.

Then it’s a matter of calling in an IT professional to help. Some viruses and malware can be very hard to completely remove from a system. It’s best to be sure.

If you have an account that’s hacked, you need to make an immediate list of any other accounts that use the same username and passwords. We’ve talked before about password security, about not using the same password for multiple accounts, and about using randomly generated passwords. If you have a separate password for each account you hold, your exposure to a single cracked or obtained password only affects the one account.

What additional security measures should be added to prevent repeat attacks?

It depends a little. If we’re talking about your workplace, you need a plan for cybersecurity. That will involve a policy for computer updates, access controls, antivirus requirements, and social engineering/phishing training for your employees. There’s a lot that needs to be done and recognized by each member of your organization to maintain security.

As a home user, you need to be taking steps to make sure you’re not using the same password for multiple accounts. Make sure your antivirus is up to date, make sure you’re not browsing to unreputable websites, and make sure you’re not opening suspicious emails.

That’s why 702 Communications offers managed services and computer repair support. We’ve got a team of IT professionals that can help you design your infrastructure to minimize risk. We can make sure your devices are automatically updating to prevent access via exploits, and we can set you up with a backup plan for your data if you’re the target of a ransomware attack. Whether you’re looking to prevent an attack or recover from one, 702 Communications is here to help.