Keeping IT safe in 2018

Now that we are heading back to work it is timely to write up an article going through how you can keep your computer(s) and precious data safe and secure.

2017 was an interesting year with a steady increase of complex attacks on business and home users. Unfortunately, it appears this trend will continue in 2018 and beyond - so let’s arm ourselves with some knowledge to help keep safe!

Windows and third-party updates
A lot of malware leverage off known exploits within the Operating System (Microsoft Windows, Apple OSX etc.) and third-party applications (examples are Abobe Reader, Java, Firefox and Chrome). For the most part, these are continually being updated to fix/patch these exploits, so it is extremely important to keep your computer updated.

We offer managed services which automatically monitors and updates Windows and third-party applications, so you can rest easy in the knowledge that your computer(s) is fully updated. If you need more information regarding this please contact us.

Antivirus Protection
An Antivirus program continually monitors all files/websites that you access on your computer and looks for known and suspect looking files. It is continually updated with definitions, which include details on the latest viruses that are ‘out in the wild’ and are often updated on an hourly basis as new viruses are discovered.

We offer a managed Antivirus which means we can monitor it for you, ensuring that your computer is safe from known viruses.

If the worst does happen it's important to have a safety net, and that net is reliable backups!

Data loss can happen as a result of many things such as malware, hardware failure, corrupt updates, force majeure or accidental deletion.

We offer a New Zealand based cloud backup service which backups up your data automatically, so you have peace of mind that if the worst does happen your data is safe and secure offsite.

Web safety
It's important that your web browser is current and up to date as the browser it self is often exploited by malware hiding in websites (this also applies to any addons to the browser such as Java and Flash player).

Some tips to stay safe on the web are:

  1. Typically sites that have malware are not too savory to start with so stick with reputable sites (just be aware that reputable sites can get hacked and infected by malware which can in turn infect computers by just visiting the site which is called a drive by infection).
  2. When using sensitive credentials in a web browser, always make sure the site address bar has the secure lock symbol (is green in most common web browsers), and that the address starts with https:
  3. Don't use the same password for critical sites such as Internet Banking as you do for regular sites such as Facebook, Grabone or Trademe etc. Ideally you should use unique passwords for every site to sign into but in reality this dosn't happen; however there are password management tools available which we can recommend.

Your best protection while surfing the web is having a fully patched computer along with a reputable Antivirus installed.

Email scams
Scams are becoming more prevalent and one of the main mediums the scammers are using is email, so here’s a few tips to stay safe when emailing (some are obvious but most scammers are counting on a slip up):

  1. Don’t give out your email address unless it is to a trusted, work-related site. Hackers often target sites with address lists for them to send phishing emails out to.
  2. Hover over links in emails before clicking – even if they appear to be typed out correctly, the text is a separate property to the hyperlink.
  3. Only open emails or attachments that you are expecting or recognise. (Remember that email addresses can get hacked and emails can be sent out to everyone on their contact list so even if you recognise the contact it may still be a phishing email.)
  4. Make sure you are a recipient in the “To:” list. Don’t trust it if you are BCC’d.

Often with phishing emails, the credentials are collected in a database, and the hackers wait for the dust to settle before using the information they have collected. In general, the world is getting too comfortable with the internet, so remember that it is a public arena for all and used for sharing information.

No one method can 100% guarantee the safety of your data but it can mitigate the risk. Ultimately the most affective protection is you, the end user, by making sure your computer is up to date, checking email links before clicking on them and avoiding unreputable websites.

If you have any questions in regard to anything raised in this newsletter please let me know and we can arrange a time to discuss.

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