Virus & Security Protection basic steps 15/05/17

In light of recent events in the news surrounding Virus Attacks on the NHS and other organisations; I thought I would take the time to highlight simple steps to help prevent such attacks on your systems going forward. Good housekeeping of your IT systems will go a long way to protecting your information.

Some of the information below is more relevant to business. If you are a home user, most of the steps below are still applicable.

The current virus which hit the headlines is known as Ransom-ware –  This type of Virus can sit dormant on your systems for days, weeks or years and is triggered by an event, that event could be a date, or a user action. If infected the only recovery is to rebuild your machines and recover your data from Back-up. This can be a costly exercise. Or you could pay the ransom which again is very costly.

But some simple steps and good general housekeeping can help prevent most attacks, the following advice is the bare minimum we should be doing to ensure our information and systems are protected.

  • Back-up your data/information/photos – this should always be your first step – computers can be restored but valuable data cannot without a back-up.
    • Copy your data periodically to an external device. How often you do this depends on how often your data changes and it importance to you.
    • Many people use cloud storage as a back-up, (Icloud, OneDrive, Dropbox, googledrive etc.) – Whilst cloud storage systems have many failsafe’s they are not enough on their own. Back-up to an external device, should also be used.
    • If you back-up to a local external service provider, ensure you ask for a copy of their back-up procedures and security policy. Remember this is your data and IT companies are not exempt from attack.
    • If possible store your external device securely in a separate location
    • It is good practice to have more than one external Back-up Device. (In case one fails) i.e one for monthly back-ups and one for weekly.
  • Updates and Operating Systems – Windows 7, 8 and 10 are still supported by Microsoft, new security updates are released periodically. Windows XP and Vista are not and are vulnerable.  
    • Ensure your systems are current and supported
    • Ensure your systems are updated through Windows Update – On your computers – check for updates and install.
    • Set a time frame to routinely check your systems are up to date.
    • Set automatic updates – In the main this is a good option – however if you have software which is affected every time updates are installed you may not wish to use this option. My advice would be to solve the problem – to allow updates to be installed automatically.
  • Anti-Virus Software – ensure you have good antivirus software and Malware protection.
    • Ensure your software is up to date
    • Ensure your Antivirus software is set to scan all files when accessed
    • Ensure your Antivirus software runs full scans periodically.
  • Education and Security Policy - 99% of viruses will only infect your system if actioned by an individual (clicking a link in an e-mail, inserting an unknown USB stick, clicking dodgy links in Facebook for example)
    • good education to all people using your systems will help prevent infection.
    • If you are an organisation – It is a good idea to have a security policy in place. Outlining the steps, you take to protect your systems and what is acceptable computer use, within your organisation. For example, is social media allowed, are staff allowed to plug in their own phones and USB sticks.
    • Passwords – please ensure you have distinct passwords and please ensure you change your passwords regularly – I know we have so many passwords and it is a real pain changing them all the time, but it is very important.

Please Remember -  If you were not expecting it and it looks unusual then it is probably not safe.