Thursday Tip: Update Your Protection

April 2, 2009

There was a lot of talk yesterday about the Conficker worm. The good news was that it was mostly talk and very few problems. I guess what surprises me is that so many computers are vulnerable when it is fairly easy to avoid most of these problems. I’m going to list a few basic steps below.

  1. Make sure you keep your operating system updated. With Windows, that means running the Windows Update or Microsoft Update tools at least once a month. Yes, this takes time. Just imagine how much time you might lose if your computer gets infected.
  2. Keep your anti-virus and firewall updated. Some users get a free subscription with a new computer and they don’t realize that it only lasts for a limited time. If it expires and you aren’t getting new updates, you are exposing your computer to new threats that appear every day. Make sure you are also scanning your computer on a regular basis so that you can catch anything that might slip through.
  3. Keep any other software that works on the Internet updated. That can include programs like Adobe Reader, Quicktime, Web browsers, mail clients and more. These updates should be free.
  4. If an e-mail looks or sounds fishy, there is a good chance it is phishy. This could lead to information getting stolen or visiting a rogue Web site that will infect your computer. But please be careful about setting your spam filters too high. Not a day goes by that a customer doesn’t yell at me because they haven’t gotten an e-mail from us they expected. I won’t say that we have never messed up, but well over 99% of the problems are because the e-mail got eaten by a spam filter. If you are expecting e-mail, make sure you allow those addresses to send you mail.
  5. If you go to questionable Web sites, the chances of getting infected are much higher. I’m not even going to try to define questionable here, but I’m sure you can figure out sites that could be problematic. Stay away from those sites and chances are much lower you’ll get infected.

I’m sure I could list even more rules, but those five should take care of many of the potential problems. If you just take a few precautions, you should be able to work without having to constantly worry about the security issues out there.

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