GO
MyTrevo

 
Complete Guide to Trouble-Free Computing
Cyberspace is a dangerous place where malicious hackers run wild with no apparent effort from law enforcers to track them down and stop them from their nefarious deeds. Hackers use every means to gain entry to your private data or commandeer your computer for their botnet. On the other hand, you, yourself can often be the biggest threat to your personal data by not having your data backed up when your device fails, or is damaged, lost or stolen. Here are some suggestions for keeping your data and devices safer and more trouble-free.
Protect Your PC or LaptopOne of the best ways to protect your data on a Windows PC might to use a Macintosh. Between the underlying UNIX kernel and the apparent lack of interest among malware creators, Macintosh computers are much less susceptible to malware. There have been periodic “Mac” attacks like last year’s Flashback Trojan that supposedly infected over 500,000 Macs along with other threats that might cause even a Mac user to invest in some protection. PC owners, on the other hand, have lots of effective protection applications to choose from including free anti-malware apps from Microsoft like Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender which are now built into Windows 8 and even more like Microsoft’s free Malicious Software Removal Tool Malware. In fact, while you’re reading this article you can get a free quick scan and malware removal from Microsoft right here. There are lots of other good free apps like AVG and Avast as well as commercial security apps including Norton security software which had started to lose favor for compromising performance several years ago but has regained its reputation as one of the top protection brands in the PC market.
  The More Anti-Malware Apps on Your PC, the Better?With so many good quality free anti-malware programs, you’d think the more you had working to protect your computer, the better. Most experts agree that one in each category is the way to go. Multiple anti-malware programs running at the same time can fool each other into thinking they are each trying to do something malicious which could possibly compromise performance or create other undesirable side effects and problems.  
Update All Your ApplicationsModern-day virus programmers have a new resource available to them called “Exploit Kits.” These malware-in-a-box kits provide information on how to exploit out-of-date software using security holes or other vulnerabilities. The newly minted malware program is dispatched to deliver a “payload” to an unsuspecting computer or even a web site where it can be spread to users who browse that site. For that reason, it’s especially important to keep the software on your computer up-to-date. PC Pitstop’s, lab recently determined that over 90% of computers have at least one major application that is out-of-date. We recommend you take a look at PC Pitstop’s security and tune up software that will not only protect your computer from malware but will also alert you to out-of-date software and drivers on your PC. Another good resource is Windows Secret’s Patch Watch column (paid content, but worth it). For a commercial service useful for business and individuals you could check out Secunia who offers various “Inspectors” that alert you to vulnerabilities.
Take Homeland Security’s Advice and Uninstall JavaOne of the most popular exploit kits is called the “Black Hole Kit” which mainly goes after vulnerabilities in Java. Java has been singled out by the Department of Homeland Security for being especially vulnerable. Java, although maintained by Oracle and updated frequently, has largely been replaced by Flash and HTML 5, and is not used as much as it once was. We agree with Homeland Security that you might be better off uninstalling Java (here’s how). At the very least make sure your version is up-to-date.
How to Survive a Computer MeltdownAlthough hard drive crashes are less common these days, they always seem to happen more on computers that aren’t backed up. We feel one of the best ways to avert a catastrophe is to either have a redundant system or back up your most important files. Remember that the external hard drive you keep next to your computer and use for backups is just as likely to be stolen by the burglar who steals the computer or damaged in a fire or earthquake so keeping a backup copy in the cloud or on an “off site” hard drive makes a lot of sense.
Critical Windows Files to Back Up

  • Documents: Back up the entire documents folder
  • Music: This should include your iTunes folder
  • Pictures & Videos: If you have a lot of videos this could be a lot of data
  • Desktop Email: Outlook stores all your email in a .PST file, and here’s how to find it and back it up.
  • Application Settings: AppData folders contain directories which store setting for all your apps that can often be restored. Look in C:\Users\Username\AppData\ to find them
Keep an Image of Your Hard Drive in the Trunk of Your Car
We use a program named True Image from Acronis that creates a byte-for-byte image of our 2TB hard drive on a spare drive in a couple of hours that we then store in a separate location and can be used at any time the drive fails, gets corrupted or is compromised.
Set a Passcode on Your Smartphone
One of the easiest ways you can protect your smartphone is to set a password on your mobile device so that if it is lost or stolen, your data is more difficult to access. Just make sure you wipe off the screen periodically so no one can follow the marks your fingers leave.
Mobile Devices Can Get Malware Too
According to a study by Lookout Security 40% of mobile users (or 4 out of 10) clicked on unsafe links with their smartphone in 2012. Android is more vulnerable to malware than iOS partly due to the better policing and control in the Apple Store. One of the most common types of mobile malware affecting Android phones is called “Toll Fraud” which gets its name from the way it authorizes charges to your bill without your knowledge. If you are an Android user you should keep your eye out for unexplained charges on your phone bill.
Use These Apps to Protect Your Smartphone
There are lots of good apps that will help you locate a missing phone or encrypt your data. Lookout is a must-have mobile device security app that protects iOS and Android devices from malware and other threats. It’s an all-around mobile security app that protects, backs up and helps you locate a lost phone. Apple offers a free app called Find My Phone which can come in very handy when your iPhone is lost or stolen. A similar app for Android phones called Where’s My Droid, can make your phone ring or provide its location on a Google map. Data encryption might be more of concern in the enterprise environment but individuals might want the added security that apps like Secure Memo, Good Technology , SecureSafe, or Tiger Text provide. Newer iPhones have some encryption built into the devices that make it virtually impossible to read data off a screen locked phone. Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones offer similar encryption features.
Keep Your Email Account from Getting Hacked
Rob Cheng of PC Pitstop tells the story of how easy it was for a the person who hacked Sarah Palin’s email account with the knowledge of two facts; her date of birth and the high school she attended. Armed with the answers to her security questions it was easy to get Yahoo to reset her password. Although Rob’s advice is to create a unique password and then simply delete the answers to the security questions, the next best thing is to make sure the answers are secure enough to defy the hacker trying to break into your account. On the other hand, if you want to be extra secure you might not want to keep all your contacts in your online account.

Trackback URL for this post:

http://www.retrevo.com/content/trackback/2222
 

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

MS

Good common sense little article, except why in God's name would you advise trusting anyone's security to the people who brought us everything from DOS 1.0 to Windows 8? The first definition of malware was whichever Microsoft operating system was current when the term was coined (I forget but any of MS's OSes would qualify).

Personally, when I get a new computer, I get rid of everything MS short of crashing the system, especially its 'security' programs, and replace them with programs I've learned to trust.

Mac's OS isn't really much better, except for not being quite so buggy, and Apple's universe is more like a niche than a full-fledged Cosmos. So not really a good alternative for PCs.

So get Bill's tool out of your mouth and suggest security programs that really work.