Six days a week, I manage an IT team that supports thousands of users and hundreds of servers. We see a lot and I read two to four articles a day trying to stay ahead of the curve. I’ve been asked to share the top things a nonprofit organization can do to protect its PCs from hackers, infections, and Malware.
There’s a lot to this question and most people are starting from different places, so this answer varies depending on where you are today. That said, here are the things I would tell most people who asked me.
1) There could be several #1’s so here’s 1A, 1B, and 1C:
a. Keep you operating system and drivers up to date!
Companies like Microsoft and Apple work hard to release updates to protect your PC from vulnerabilities used to penetrate your system. The manufacturer of your hardware also has software to allow your PC to function, called drivers. Make sure your drivers are current, too.
b. Use firewalls.
Turn on the software firewall in the operating system and invest in a firewall router, rather than using the cheap router your ISP provides. Firewalls help control I/O traffic and help keep you safe from unauthorized access.
c. Keep your AV (AntiVirus) updated.
Most AV relies on updated lists to ID Malware. Some free AV is worth less than you pay for it, because it instills a false sense of safety. Get an AV package you know is good and keep it up to date.
2) Be vigilant about the emails you open and read.
Like the legend of the vampire, some evil wants to be invited in. Most email hacks are old and weak, but if you open that email and click that link, you’ve just become a victim. Do not open unexpected email, even from your mom or pastor. Someone you know may have an infected PC and that PC is accessing their list and emailing you to look just like it came from them; asking you to “Click this funny link,” but the joke is on you…and you may not even know it. Clicking a simple link could give the hacker access to your private data, allow them to use your PC as a software “bot,” to even encrypt your files and demand a ransom. Simple rule, “Don’t click it unless you know it.” Go old school and call to verify those emails. It’s a hassle but not as much as being a pawn in a worldwide hack scheme.
3) Don’t go to dicey websites
Thousands of websites are used to spread malware and the list is growing and changes. How are you to know what sites are safe? You can use a free tool called Open DNS.
You can learn how to use this tool by going to: https://www.opendns.com/setupguide/ This is the gold standard for safe sites. You can also block unwanted sites like terrorist sites etc.
Be wary of web based ads on the Internet offering free downloads.
4) Power off your PC when you are not using it.
Your PC can’t get infected when it is off. In today’s fast paced world, hackers are constantly looking for any vulnerable system. If the website you have up in your browser on gets infected your PC could get attacked too.
5) Get offsite automatic cloud-based backup.
Without a team of IT professionals to cover every issue, you may miss something. Don’t panic or grow paranoid, there is no need to be anxious if everything is backed up. Turn on Carbonite or a similar service and if your files get locked or lost or your system is hit or even lost, the real importance is your files. It’s a hassle, but in the worst case, you can wipe your system, set it to new and reinstall everything.
There’s a lot more to good IT and there are more things that you can do to be safe, like: close unused ports, use better passwords and don’t take candy from strangers. BUT the 5 points listed above are the big ones for protecting your PC from hackers, virus, malware and Kryptolocker attacks.
CBE does all this and much more for our clients. So, in closing if you’re the DIY type, this list will get you started. If you are ready to step up to the big leagues get an outsourced IT provider to make this happen for you.
Director IT Solutions & Services
Carolina Business Equipment