Ring of Steel

Malware

by Steve Deal on February 24, 2014

Protecting your computer is really a lot like protecting your home.

Lock the Door

New door lock! #homework

The first step of home protection is making sure existing locks work.  If the front door lock is broken, then the rest of the security plan doesn’t work that well.

For your computer, that means ‘locking down’ the programs on your computer – fixing known problems.  There are lots of Microsoft programs – Windows, Office (Word / Excel / Outlook) plus all the other vendors –  Adobe Acrobat, photo programs, browsers and more.   Dozens of problems are identified every week, and if these known issues are not corrected on your computer, it’s an easy target.  We use an automated patching solution.

Arrest Known Fugitives

Wanted Poster

The next step in home protection is getting known criminals off the streets.   If the police can identify known thieves, and stop them in your neighborhood, they can’t steal your stuff.  A safe neighborhood makes a safer house.

That’s the job of your Antivirus program on your PC.  It has descriptions (“signatures”) of known malware, and actively blocks any instances from running on your computer.

Don’t bring pests home

Virus

Another danger to your home is you!   You are allowed free rein in the house, so the house has to ‘trust’ whatever you bring home with you – the bedbugs from the cheap hotel, or the ‘stranger’ you picked up on the roadside coming home.  ‘Mom’ is the answer here – just do what she would have done!

Web Filtering is ‘Mom’ for your PC web browsing.  It maintains a ‘reputation’ for websites, and actively prevents you from visiting sites that host malware.  Web filtering has long been used for keeping you from unpleasant sites (porn / hate), and it still can do that.  But today’s filtering is more active, also identifying and blocking the networks (“botnets”) used by malware.  We use OpenDNS Enterprise.

Don’t accept junk

Mailing Junk back to Junk Mailers

There’s all kind of ‘junk’ that can arrive at your home mailbox unrequested – objectionable material, bombs, poisons.   Our postal laws make the worst kinds illegal, and ‘filter’ it out before it gets to your home.

The computer analogy?  Your email is targeted with everything from simple annoying spam to ‘ransomware’ that locks your computer unless you pay off the blackmailers.

A modern email filter blocks out the spam, but also cleans out malware and other threats before you ever see them.  For personal accounts, Gmail and the major email providers (e.g. Office 365) do a good job of filtering.   At the corporate level, we use a dedicated mail filtering service to remove both spam and malware.

Build a Brick House

Firewall

Other threats to your home are physical in nature – trees falling on it or fire.   As the three pigs taught us, sticks are better than straw, and bricks better than sticks.

Your PC ‘house’ sits in a wild west neighborhood, and other computers on the internet can try to connect to your PC with no interaction on your part.   The original PCs were designed to network with other PCs.

Modern PCs have basic software ‘firewalls‘ in place.  A corporate environment will also have an advanced firewall as part of the router.

Insurance

House for Sale

The last element in your home protection plan is certainly insurance.  Even with good locks on your brick home,  good habits and good policing, something could still happen.

There are two kinds of PC Insurance.  The first is Backups – copies of your data somewhere else.  Please do this!

The more ‘Comprehensive’ insurance is ‘Managed Service’ – a program that guarantees your PC is available for work.  A typical program bundles the other proactive components, and includes support when something does go amiss.

Total Protection

I think these are the minimums for total PC protection:

  • Program Updates / Patching  (Lock the Door)
  • AntiVirus (Arrest Known Fugitives)
  • Web Filtering (Don’t bring pests home)
  • AntiSpam (Don’t accept junk)
  • Firewall (Build a Brick House)
  • Backups (Insurance)

Build your own, or get a a premium business package – but build a Ring of Steel around your PC !

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