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Computer Security: Best Practices for Businesses

Safe Computing is the first line of defense in Computer Security

At Burgess Computer, we understand that computer security is a top priority in today’s world.  We regularly host computer security workshops. Today, we’d like to share that information with you. Included in this article you will learn:

  • A series of best computer security practices you can follow to help protect your computer networks
  • Awareness of potential online threats and how to recognize them
  • How to keep up to date on the latest (and ever evolving) computer security threats  & how to avoid them

Use Good Passwords

Passwords are the first line of defense when we are talking about computer security.

  • Passwords should be minimum 7 characters or longer. The longer the better.
  • Passwords should contain at least one alpha character(a-z).
  • Passwords should contain at least one non-alpha character (!, @, #, $, %).
  • Passwords should be a mix of upper and lowercase.
  • Passwords should contain at least one number (1-9).

Example of a bad password: frank123

Example of a good password: !like2EatChicken

Password Security

Now that you  have a strong password, here are a few ways to keep it safe.

  • Never share your password.
  • Never write your password down.
  • Never email a password.
  • Change your password periodically.
  • Choose complex security questions.
  • Stored passwords should be encrypted with an application, such as KeePass. Visit Best Practices for Safe Password Storage for in-depth information.

Use a Secure Internet Browser

Browsing the internet is risky business. Be sure you are staying safe.

  • Keep your browser updated
  • Keep security settings at recommended levels
  • Use trusted sites when decreased security is needed

computer security internet browser

Avoid browser add-ons

Browser add-ons are one of the biggest culprits; often adding spyware and malware without you realizing what is happening.

  • Don’t install browser add-ons or toolbars unless necessary
  • Avoid “free” browser plugins on gaming or gambling websites
  • Be mindful of legitimate software “updates” that might include these (see highlighted check marks below on what to watch for)
browser add-ons computer security

Uncheck Add-On Software that may be harmful to your computer security

Antivirus

An important defender in computer security is a reliable and trusted Antivirus program.

  • Use a recognized business antivirus
    • Sophos, Managed Antivirus, Kaspersky, McAfee, Symantec, Security Essentials
  • Manage PC’s using a central console
  • Configure to update daily, and monitor this
  • Run scheduled scans
  • Pay attention to warnings and alerts
  • Know when it expires –and renew it

antivirus updates

Install Updates for Windows®, QuickBooks® & Applications

  • Install Operating System updates
  • Install application updates (Adobe, Office, QuickBooks)
  • Monitor update status on all computers
  • Don’t use outdated operating systems or software
  • Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Server 2003

installing windows updates

Use a Reliable Backup System

Use a modern backup system to ensure any compromise of your files will not result in data loss!

  • Run monthly test restores and monitor backup status daily
  • Review what’s backed up quarterly to ensure all critical data is captured
  • Keep a backup locally and offsite
  • Consider recovery times
  • Backup is the only recovery method for Ransomware such as Cryptolocker!

Use a layered security approach

Layered computer security allows different technologies to filter internet traffic, reducing single point of failure.

  • Install a business class firewall
  • Brands such as Cisco, SonicWall, Fortinet
  • Has advanced security features such as Intrusion Prevention, Gateway Antivirus and Antimalware
  • Uses web content filtering
  • Professionally installed
  • Use mail protection that filters SPAM and Viruses before they reach you
  • Use desktop Antivirus and Antimalware
  • Monitor devices for repeated failed logins or unusual activity

layered computer security

Vulnerability Scanning

Vulnerability Scanning has become a useful tool that scans your network for potential weaknesses.

  • Vulnerability Scanning provides report of findings
  • Allows for corrective action to be taken
  • Next, another scan is performed to confirm remediation
  • This is required for Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance

Train your staff on safe computing habits

This should be an on-going effort. Talk with your employees about computer security regularly.

  • Do not share passwords or send them in email or text files
  • Do not open unknown email attachments from unknown senders, and be wary of unexpected attachments from known senders
  • Do not save, install or run software downloaded from the Internet unless it has been scanned for viruses
  • Have a computer use policy and review it with your staff
  • Be wary of phone calls claiming to be from an IT vendor. Confirm identities before giving out any information.
  • Keep internet browsing to business related activities only
  • Avoid giving users “administrative” privileges on a computer
  • Beware of pop ups, strange emails, and odd phone calls.

Beware of the “official looking” warning

bogus internet scam

  • Do NOT click OK or Remove, this can cause a virus to infect
  • “End Task” on your browser using task manager
  • Turn off computer if infection is suspected
  • Contact your IT service provider

Beware of the “too good to be true” trick

  • Becoming more popular and targeting specific users, such as CFO or IT
  • Never open attachments from unknown senders
  • Never open unexpected attachments from known senders
  • Delete the message

Beware of the “sneaky link” tactic

Also known as phishing or spear-phising

  • Never click through links from unknown senders
  • Never click through unexpected links from known senders
  • “Mouse over” (but do not click) the link to see the real destination
  • Beware link shortenerslike tinyurl.com or bitly.com, ex. http://tinyurl.com/pb7gug5
  • Delete the message
link baiting how to avoid

DON’T CLICK!!

Beware of Drive by Downloads

Drive by downloads are found on malicious websites and automatically redirect you to a malware installer. This is often the most difficult security thread to defend against because if often requires NO user interaction, it just happens automatically.

  • Might pose as legitimate software or antivirus
  • You can get out of it by clicking “End Task” on your browser using Windows Task Manager
  • Turn off computer if infection is suspected
  • Contact your IT service provider before your computer is turned on again

Beware of the “search hijacker”

The search hijacker redirects your browser to another search engine.

  • Could lead to additional malware infections
  • Turn off computer if infection is suspected
  • Contact your IT service provider

link hijacker

The “Ransom” aka Cryptolocker or Cryptowall

We have seen a number of businesses affected by Cryptolocker or Cryptowall ransomware. Often, if the business does not have a reliable file backup, they are forced to pay a ransom and then hope the hackers return their data, though there is no guarantee.

  • Infects by clicking link or opening attachments
  • Encrypts certain file types like QuickBooks, databases
  • Network aware, can encrypt shared files
  • The only remedies are to pay the ransom or restore from backup

Keep up with current threats

Matt Rice, CTO

Matt is a graduate of Central Maine Technical College. He has been with Burgess since 2001, acting as Service Manager, then General Manager, before becoming an owner. Matt focuses on developing and delivering technologies that fit best with customer needs.

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