Cuomo’s Column: Deck the Fire Walls
By Sal Cuomo
Another Black Friday is in the books, so keep the Grinch’s away with some basic security upgrades that will make your network or PC jolly for the rest of the year:
- Upgrade your fire wall. A firewall comes in two forms – hardware and software. Hardware firewalls limit the accessibility to your network from outsiders and are a security essential. This will be a physical box that your internet connection will plug into first. In a home environment you may plug into a router that gives you wireless capabilities. A router directs traffic and provides some firewall capabilities. A true hardware firewall offers much more security and can have abilities for monitoring traffic on the network. A software or personal firewall may reside on a server or individual workstation/PC. These help direct traffic internally and can be coupled with anti-virus/malware/spyware programs. Although there are a ton of free or trial programs available; good security is worth a few dollars.
- Back up your files…Now! In previous articles I have discussed the benefits of cloud back up. If you are still concerned with the security aspect of using the internet; consider an external hard drive. Prices have come down drastically in the last few years and sizes are considerably smaller. The last one I bought was about $100 for a Terabyte of info. After back up make sure to move the drive to a secure location away from work or home. Why? Although not likely but fires, power surges, and the occasional dumped soft drink can damage these items as well as any electronics. Many who use external drives have purchased two and rotate them to and from the secure location back to the office.
- Protect yourself from ransom ware. If you needed a reason to follow through on the first two items this would be it. Ransom ware is malware that infects your network or PC and holds it hostage. Your screen will post a warning, you will be instructed how to pay the $200-$500 fee, and the PC will be useless whether you pay or not in most cases. You must then hope you have the right anti-virus tools to get rid of it. A new version of this ransom ware was discovered a few months ago that actually encrypts your files. So even if you can rid yourself of the malware all your files will be encrypted and irretrievable. Prevention and planning are keys to combating these internet thieves. If you receive an email or IM from someone you don’t recognize delete it immediately. Don’t click on banner ads and be cautious when traveling to new internet sites.
You may have lost a PC but by backing up your information on a regular basis you will at least have peace of mind.