Introduction – Synergy and Planning
Greetings, this document is offered as a framework to building your small office, home office and personal computer antivirus and disaster recovery solution.
As business owners both small and large, we know everything starts with an idea and then is hopefully followed up with planning. Indeed, this how is how most of our businesses began, from a single idea, hard work, dedication and planning. These ideas and plans as well as growing number of resources are relying more each day on technology. So building good strategic plans and setting technology goals for protecting and securing our data is essential for keeping our businesses running successfully.
We should take an active role in securing our data and protecting our systems.
Just as good synergy is required within your team to help ensure all elements and contributors are interacting well and producing at optimal levels, good synergy is also required with our technology solutions to be certain our data is secured, our systems are protected and our resources are available when we and where we need them at all times.
Again, as a small business owner I understand the importance of being able to rely on our data and technology to be working and to be available as needed and expected. This is one of the core purposes for creating this document.
Our worlds are connected.
Also at the core for creating this document and equally as important is the fact that all our worlds are connected more now than ever before in the human history. Our mobile worlds, our worlds of gaming, our circles of friends, our work colleagues and contacts, almost all of us I’m sure who are reading this document touch the Internet in some way every day. E-mail, web surfing, gaming, downloading, uploading and researching are just some typical ways in which we use the Internet and thereby interact with each other.
We share some of the same files and systems. In many cases some of us share a lot of the same files and systems. It should be important to us all to keep our data protected and our files secure and safe.
Unfortunately, there are numerous malicious pieces of software, viruses’, forms of malware and other threats that are created and have been coded to bring harm and malfunction to computer systems and computer networks.
The more informed we all are about how to protect our computers and systems and keep them safe from threats, the more protected and safe we all will be.
This is not only one of the core purposes for creating this document, this is also one of the fundamental reasons Danntech Unlimited was created. Knowledge is good.
With the release of this document, we are taking a few initiatives.
- This document is an outline for the upcoming Danntech Unlimited YouTube channel which will launch this spring. Our YouTube channel will go into further detail for each subject covered in this initial framework.
- As small businesses owners and entrepreneurs we need to understand and embrace technology more now than ever before. In many cases our technology can help us bring our products and services to new audiences and grow our businesses. This document takes an initial step in building a new human networking platform that helps us communicate with each and other share thoughts and ideas while creating and building our businesses.
Building the Framework
Create and Maintain a Good Computer Image
What is a computer image? An image is a snapshot in time of your computer’s hard drive which is a replica of your hard drive from when the image was taken.
In an event of a computer crash, loading a computer image can be much less costly and time consuming than having to reload your operating system from scratch and re-installing your software applications.
Most operating systems offer some form of hard drive imaging which is built into the OS. The largest concern with this type of imaging or recovery system is that if your computer is destroyed or attacked and made inaccessible, your recovery files will be unavailable as well and possibly damaged.
A more secure method of building computer images is to use a third party system that can create, store and restore your computer image(s) to and from an external source. This lessens the possibility of your computer images from being damaged or destroyed.
Ideally, your computer should be imaged at least once a month. Also, best practice is to create an image when your computer is performing well and with no problems.
Backing up your data is an essential piece of any disaster recovery plan. It is a very good idea to back up your data in between images.
Best practice is to back up important data daily or at least weekly. Backup can be performed either incrementally or fully to an external drive or an online backup solution.
To understand the importance of backing up your data, consider that imaging your computer will allow you quickly restore your operating system and software applications such as Word and Excel however your Word and Excel documents will only be as update as the most current image. So if your backups are current this will allow you to restore your most current documents after your computer image has been reloaded.
In today’s world of technology no one can explain to you enough the importance of having good antivirus software installed and kept up to date on your computers and mobile devices.
The ultimate goal of antivirus software is to protect your computer from malicious software that may bring you to the point of having to restore your system from backup and imaging.
Unfortunately, there are countless threats from malicious pieces of software, compromised web sites and viral infected e-mail messages that can slow down your computers, damage and destroy files or bring your system down completely.
Best practice is to utilize an anti virus solution which protects your email client such as Outlook or Eudora as well your web browsing. It is important to remember that your antivirus software is only as good as your scheduled antivirus scans are run and how up to date your virus definitions are kept.
Also, your antivirus solution should help to protect you and your computer from identity theft, SPAM, malware as well as other security threats.
There are many antivirus solutions available on the market. Many companies and resellers would be more than happy to sell you their products as well as services, self included. However it is very good know that there are a few free options available for home and single license antivirus users.
There are also a few fairly inexpensive solutions available for small businesses as well.
As always, some time dedicated to researching a good solution will help the decision making process.
Danntech is always available and happy to assist.
Portable and External Storage Devices
What are portable and external storage devices?
Portable storage devices can be described as portable computer hard drives. Portable storage devices and portable media devices can sometimes be used interchangeably. Both types of devices are used to store digital data such as files, video, music, photos, etc. Portable media devices offer the ability to play the stored media, video and or music from the portable device. An IPOD or other MP3 players are good examples of portable media devices.
These devices usually attach or interface with your computer via a USB port either directly with the USB interface built into the device or through a USB cable which connects between the device and the computer.
Other forms of external storage include media / SD cards. This type of storage can typically be found in digital cameras and mobiles devices such phones and tablets.
Some Risks of Using Storage Media Devices
Jump drives / flash drives are great right? Of course they are so handy and useful to have around. It is so simple to pop in a USB drive, copy data, pop out the drive thereby making the data available to you on another computer or laptop.
Jump drives are incredibly convenient however there are some risks associated with using these types of storage devices. Understanding these risks will help us take appropriate action to deal with possible threats.
As these devices are so widely and commonly used by so many people, malware can easily propagate from one computer to another in your home and / or office.
- A good starting point when dealing with jump drives is to ensure your antivirus software is configured to scan these devices as soon as they interface with your computer or laptop. As we mentioned earlier, it is important that your antivirus software is kept and up to date to help protect you computer and your data from the most current threats.
- Another good idea is to disable “auto run”. This step will stop possible malicious software or code from running immediately after the device is connected to your computer or laptop.
- Do not connect any “found” jump drive or USB drive to your computer or laptop.
Smart phones and tablets are assuming the role of media storage devices as well as portable storage devices increasingly more as people begin to adopt the idea of utilizing smart phones and tablets. Also as the cost of these devices become more affordable the devices become more reasonable purchases.
However there are some risks involved with using these devices as well. In the following section we’ll touch on some these risks as well as how you can begin protecting your computer and your data from these potential threats.
- It is recommended to password protect your mobile device with a strong password or PIN and periodically change that password or PIN.
- Before downloading and installing an app or a game, read the terms of the application for understanding about which features and resources of your mobile device the app or game will have access
- Download app and games from trusted resources
- Install and run antimalware and antivirus applications which will take appropriate action when suspicious applications are identified. This antivirus application should also be able to scan the entire device periodically.
- If possible, setup a firewall on the device which will monitor inbound and outbound traffic
- Disable WiFi and Bluetooth when these services are not in use
From our YouTube channel, we will be discussing additional steps and methods you can take to help protect your computer and secure your data while using portable and external storage devices.
Wireless Router Configuration
More than likely one of most important parts of your network, home or office is the wireless router. As we conduct more and more of our business and other activities over the Internet the wireless router has become part of our social fabric. We depend on our wireless network and therefore our wireless router for schoolwork, entertainment, social networking, financial management, etc.
Indeed, wireless routers, hotspots AKA free WiFi has become so common place most people do not give a second thought to connecting their mobile devices, computers, laptops or MACs to an open Internet connection
Unfortunately, there are some concerns with both configuring your home office / small office wireless router as well as connecting to available hotspots and open WiFi connections.
Risks of Home Office / Small Office Wireless Routers
- A good place to start, change the SSID. This identification is the unique name of your wireless network. In many cases the default SSID is configured to mirror the manufacture’s name. This name can make your equipment an easy target for threats and malicious attacks.
- Wireless routers should be configured use WPA or WPA2. Many routers still ship by default with WEP enabled. Unfortunately, this security algorithm is incapable of securing your wireless router, your wireless network as well as your devices and computers.
- Backup your wireless router configuration.
- Download and install new firmware for your wireless router when available.
- Disable router ports if they are not in use such as:
- Remote upgrade
- Remote management
- Enable the wireless router firewall
- Enable Logging
- Monitor the wireless traffic; with logging enabled, when a computer or device attaches to your wireless network a log entry is created. It is a good idea to look over all log entries from time to time to ensure all devices attaching to your wireless network are known and trusted devices
Please consider, these are only some suggestions you can put in place to help secure your home office / small office wireless router and wireless network.
Danntech Unlimited is always available and happy to assist you and your organization with setting up and configuring your wireless routers and wireless networks.
Beginning this section calls to mind one the best pieces of advice for people who socially network online and through e-mail.
“In most cases sending an e-mail is similar to writing a postcard. There is no envelope. If your e-mail is intercepted or dropped online the way to its destination anyone and everyone has access to reading your message.”
“”Speaking” over social networks is similar to speaking to a friend in a crowded bar Regardless of whether you are shouting across the room to your friend or sitting next to them having a conversation, privacy is somewhat limited “
With that said, social networks are great. Literally millions of people all over the planet connect to social networking sites and services regularly via mobile devices, computers, etc.
However there are some risks associated with social networking services. Understanding these risks can help us all be safer and better protected online and in some cases in everyday life as well.
- Threats – The popularity of social networking actually make these platforms a target for malicious code and threats. An attack embedded into a website or an application and shared by a few can potentially infects millions of computers as well as other devices.
- Social Engineering Attacks – Some malicious code can create comments or send messages to users with links to misleading websites that may request passwords or personal information. Following these links may cause you to disclose information that could compromise your computer system or your personal identity.
- Identity Theft – Armed with enough of your person data, someone could assume your identity and further compromise your financial accounts, personal email accounts, your contacts and more.
Again, social networking sites are great. These services are enjoyable and entertaining as well as powerful tools for connecting people and businesses together. And while we make use of these sites and services for both pleasure and business it is wise to consider the potential risks and to take the necessary precautions to stay safe and keep your systems and data protected.
As the planet becomes even more connected, it is important that we all take steps to embrace and understand the technology around us. For some of us, we utilize technology everyday and with each day it is becoming more important that we prepare for potential security risks that may threaten our systems and or compromise data.
We formed for Danntech Unlimited with this fundamental idea:
“Enable small businesses with resources and technologies and the expertise to use these tools to continue growing and creating their products and services for larger audiences.”
If you and or your organization require any additional assistance, information or consultation, please feel free to contact us at Danntech Unlimited.
In today’s globally connected environment, antivirus protection, disaster recovery and readiness to deal with potential threats is essential for securing our computer systems, keeping our data safe and growing our businesses. This is the purpose of creating this document.