My email inbox stays full with questions from readers about dealing with new technology. It is always interesting to hear about their problems and challenges and to learn about success stories with the new technology. Here are a few recent notes from my email inbox.
Question: I just got hacked! Now I can’t open applications and my files are corrupted. What can I do?
One of the scariest things that can happen to a business is to have the computers go down. The damage can come from equipment failure, power surges, or outside sources hacking your computer just to damage your information. It is almost impossible to fix the situation after it happens, so printers should be prepared to deal with it when it happens. There are proven procedures that can lower the risk, whether you are attacked from the outside or the equipment fails.
1. Always make backups of your files and folders and store them offsite. It isn’t a matter of if you are going to have a problem; it is when. Everyone will face a situation where information is lost or destroyed. The best insurance is to have a backup.
One of the most inexpensive ways today to back up your computer and protect your digital assets is to go to the “cloud.” Online backup services will automatically backup your files nightly so you will avoid losses from hardware failures. The cost to back up a single computer runs just about $50 a year. That is cheap insurance. Some of the more popular services are Carbonite.com, Barracuda.com, and Jungledisk.com.
Even if you plan to copy files to a removable hard drive, make sure that you take the files offsite on a daily basis. It doesn’t help if both the original files and the backups are destroyed at the same time because they were in the same location. If you are using a backup system that compresses the files you will need to check it often to make sure it is backing the files up correctly.
2. Make sure you have a good firewall. A firewall acts as a barrier between your computer and the Internet and keeps bad things out of your network and off your computer. This will prevent worms, Trojan viruses, and spyware from infecting your system. Three basic types of firewalls are available for you to choose from: software firewalls, hardware routers, and wireless routers. Which you use depends on how many computers you have and the operating system you use.
Software firewalls are a good choice for single computers. Windows Vista and Windows XP both have built-in firewalls, so an additional firewall is not necessary. A number of companies sell software solutions. If you’re networked, you may want to invest in a separate hardware firewall box or make sure your wireless access point or network router has a built in firewall.
3. Review your browser and email setting for security. Make sure to constantly erase your “cookies” folder. Cookies do track your daily actions online. Set your “Internet zone” for high and your “trusted sites” for medium low security.
5. Install some kind of antivirus software and make sure to set it for automatic updates. You will want to make sure you even have antivirus software on your Macs. Don’t believe that there is anything like a safe computer.
6. Make copies of your program disks and keep them offsite. If you download updates, be sure to keep copies of the install programs on disk and offsite.
7. Don’t open unknown email attachments. Some printers set up a lone computer to handle email attachments so they can be sure the files won’t corrupt the network.
8. Maintain battery backup for the network. You never know when you will lose power and the battery backups will at least keep the system up until you can power it down properly.
9. Turn off your computer and disconnect from the Internet. Hackers can’t get into your system if your computer is off.