Malware has evolved dramatically in the past 20 years – from malicious script kiddies breaking things just for fun, to corporate and nation-state espionage, to a multimillion dollar industry. No company, no home, nowhere with advanced electronics is safe. Whether you know it or not, you depend on IT security for protection and privacy.
Fortunately, there are many new security solutions. Advanced firewalls, analytics tools, and a healthy dose of security education can help. But where to start when there are so many options and you’re on a tight budget?
Here are 6 Steps to Stay Secure:
- Put your firewalls to work. At home and work, you already have a firewall. This will allow only certain people and certain traffic into your network. Learn about customization options and ensure they’re being used. Home users, your router may be more sophisticated than you know. Take advantage of these settings.
- Anti-virus is your friend. For home use there are even free AV offerings that are pretty good (although some have annoying ads.) For your business, invest in a dependable and professional AV package.
- Look for clues. Most malware comes in through people. Train yourself – and your co-workers – to recognize suspicious emails, attachments, and websites. For your company, consider hosting seminars that clearly outline warning signs, or send rounds of faux “phishing” emails to put that knowledge to the test.
- Open Domain Naming System. The best malware will still trick you by imitating a legitimate website. So, use OpenDNS. OpenDNS tracks hundreds of thousands of malware sites and stops you from connecting to them. There’s a free service that takes only a few minutes to reconfigure your outbound routers.
- Virtual Private Network. Especially if working mobile or remote, get on your network using a Virtual Private Network solution. Corporate VPN is absolutely essential. For home users, there are low-cost personal VPN solutions. A VPN encrypts and secures your connection to the Internet – nobody can see your traffic or your endpoint (PC, phone).
- Back it up! If you care about it, back it up often. If you care a lot about it, back it up onto two different drives. Even if you do everything we already discussed, ransomware can still get in and turn your PC into a useless paperweight. User errors happen. Physical damage is a possibility. Make sure you’re prepared.