Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Top 10 things you can do today to improve your security (+ Bonus Option)

1. If it has been several years since you installed your OS I'd recommend backing up all your data. Ensure you have a good backup, original OS media (CD/DVD), or created your own restoration media before you take the plunge. Once you've made sure everything is backed up check to see if there are service packs you can install without needing to be connected to the Internet. For example, if you have Windows 7 and your original installation was created before SP1 then you can download SP1 and SP2 from Microsoft. This will reduce the number of updates you have to install after you connect to the Internet and will enhance your security before you connect to the Internet. Microsoft has created a how to guide you can find at
***If you have Windows 8 or 8.1 or MAC OS X for that matter you should check to see if there are service packs you can download before you begin a clean installation. It will save you time and ensure you have the latest security patches installed when you do connect to the Internet.
***Check the websites for any of the applications you use routinely and see if they have updates you can also download before you begin.
***If you have never reinstalled your OS then you should check your manufacturer’s website to see if they have detailed step-by-step instructions. If they don’t then get on Google, your favorite search engine, or Youtube and see if someone has already created a video step-by-step. It’s really not difficult but if you’ve never done it you really should make sure you understand what to do.
**********CAUTION*********** Make sure you have license information for all your software so you can reinstall it legally once you have a clean OS installation.
**********CAUTION*********** Did I mention backing up your media? Yeah…but it is worth repeating. The last thing you want to do is find out after you’ve reformatted your drive that you didn’t back up something.

2. You’ve reinstalled your OS, applications, and all security patches which you downloaded previously. Now you want to setup/configure your OS and all applications that have an auto update feature for…you guessed it…auto updates. Then you need to install your firewall or ensure it’s enabled if you are using the firewall that comes standard with your OS (Windows or MAC) and also install your AV/Malware protection software of choice and then ensure it is updated with the latest virus definitions.
**********CAUTION***********At this point you are still using your administrator account so no unnecessary surfing. Just don’t do it.

3. Now you want to create your standard user account (NON ADMIN ACCOUNT) and ensure you use the standard user account when you start surfing the Internet.

4. Change your default username and password on your router! If you cannot change the default username then you definitely need to set your password and ensure you use a good complex password. I recommend storing you password in a password protected document with an unassuming name. IE…don’t name the file “My Passwords”.

5. Change the name of your SSID to something unassuming and not readily identifiable as being yours. This is really important if you live in a metropolitan area where you have many neighbors who are also running a wireless network. Why make it easy for someone to figure out which network is name it something unique and not associated with your name. Smith's WiFi is not a good choice if your surname is Smith, but FBI Surveillance Van might be a good name...have fun and make it memorable.

6. Configure your router to use one of the DNS providers mentioned in Cybersecurity for Everyone such as OpenDNS, Norton ConnectSafe etc. If you do not have a router and only have one computer to configure then you can change the DNS settings for your network interface card (NIC) on your computer.

7. If you have a wireless router then you should configure WPA2 for all your wireless devices and set your DHCP settings to only allow the number of devices you have or enable MAC filtering...or both.

8. Also configure your Ethernet connections for security. We have a number of self-help videos on our website so I recommend you check those to learn how to do this.

9. Find a password manager that you like and start using it for all your passwords. Do not use the password manager built into your browser or you are likely to have your passwords exposed.

10. Do not use the same password for multiple websites!

11. Bonus...Consider getting a subscription for Authentic8's SILO browser, Light Point Web browser plugin or use a sandbox program that can sandbox your browser. SILO and Light Point Web are both excellent options.

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