Are you looking to beef up your computer security and antivirus? Are you concerned about the influx of malware, ransomware, viruses and phishing that's constantly in the news? If so, getting your computer and home security in check is a wise idea and the sooner the better!
Many years ago, Antivirus was a critical piece of software but many people aren't aware that thanks to new technology from computer operating systems such as Microsoft and Apple those days are gone, and you don't need to spend $400 a year renewing that subscription. There are open-source alternatives from networking powerhouses such as Cisco, and when combined with Microsoft Defender, offer up just as good protection.
The #1 reason people get viruses and malware on their machine is from installing dodgy software, freeware or those annoying games that pop up when surfing Facebook. If you stay away from these, and only install reliable reputable software you're half way to good security. Antivirus companies claim to offer anti-phishing plugins that scan your emails but they blatantly don't work and scam emails will continue to hound your mailbox daily. - Unfortunately this is just normal with email and affects us all, exercising caution is the best approach here.
Using an email program such as Outlook in conjunction with Microsoft or Gmail will offer the same level of protection as those AV tools email scanning for free, mark emails as spam and don't open anything dodgy. If you're not expecting an email, or suspect the email to be misleading, then don't respond. Finally common sense is often needed when using email these days, check the sender, hover over links before clicking them, and if it sounds to good to be true it is. Even IT experts click spam links that can hijack your browser session and steal data!
The #1 approach with computer security is proactive management such as upgrading your tech, ensure you install the latest Windows updates, don't install unknown programs, keep your applications updated, invest in a password manager and use super long random passwords on all your favourite sites, and finally, make sure you enable multi-factor authentication on all your sites such as email, online banking and social media profiles. Going passwordless is another option which is recently becoming popular and we'll discuss this with you if you'd like.
Lastly, if you've got important data such as a home business, tax records, photos you love, make sure you back everything up into the cloud using Onedrive, Google Drive, or invest in a nice little NAS or external hard drive. For extra protection, backup your data in 3 places for redundancy. Ransomware can wipe out companies overnight, don't be their next success story!
Below are some common home security tasks we do for our clients to give you an idea on what we can do/help you with too.
We've been there, done that, seen how they work and ultimately sticking with a well known reputable product is much better than the company with the best marketing or reseller affiliate commission. That is why we have had the most success with Immunet by Cisco - and it's free too!
Immunet® is a malware and antivirus protection system that utilises cloud computing to provide enhanced community-based security. Join the Immunet Community today and help make the internet safer for everyone. It connects to the Internet and constantly updates definitions and protection without the bloat of other AV programs which slow your machine down, force you to pay huge renewal fees among others!
Do I need antivirus or is it a big con?
The necessity of antivirus software really depends on your specific use case. Here are a few things to consider:
Your behaviour: If you frequently download files from the internet, visit less secure websites, or open email attachments from unknown sources, an antivirus may be beneficial.
Your operating system: Some operating systems have built-in protections. For example, Windows 10 and 11 have Windows Defender, which provides a good level of protection for most users. Macs also have built-in protections, but they're not immune to viruses and other malware.
Your technical knowledge: If you're tech-savvy and knowledgeable about safe online behavior, you may not need an additional antivirus. However, even the most tech-savvy individuals can accidentally click on a malicious link or download a harmful file.
Your tolerance for risk: If the thought of a potential virus or malware infection keeps you up at night, an antivirus might be worth it for the peace of mind alone.
Your data: If you have sensitive data on your device that would be damaging if lost or stolen, an antivirus could provide an extra layer of security.
Antivirus software is not a "con" in the sense that it's designed to scam you out of money. Reputable antivirus software does provide legitimate protection against various threats. However, not all antivirus software is created equal, and some may not provide the level of protection you need. Additionally, some less reputable antivirus software can act more like malware itself, causing more problems than it solves.
It's also important to remember that antivirus software is not a panacea. It can't protect against all threats, especially new ones (also known as zero-day threats) that haven't been identified yet. It also can't protect against social engineering attacks, where the user is tricked into giving away their own information.
In conclusion, whether or not you need an antivirus software depends on your specific situation. It's a tool in your cybersecurity toolbox, but it's not the only tool you should be relying on. Safe online behavior is equally, if not more, important.
What are the different types of malicious attacks out there?
There are many different types of malicious attacks in the world of computing. Here are some of the most common ones:
Malware: This is a broad category that includes viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. These harmful pieces of software can delete files, steal personal information, or even take over a computer's functions.
Phishing: In a phishing attack, the attacker pretends to be a trusted entity to trick a victim into providing sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. This is often done through deceptive emails or websites.
Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks: In this type of attack, the attacker secretly intercepts and potentially alters the communication between two parties who believe they are directly communicating with each other.
Denial-of-Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks: In these attacks, the attacker overwhelms a system, network, or website with traffic to render it inaccessible to users.
SQL Injection: This type of attack involves the insertion of malicious SQL code into a database query. The attacker can use this to view, modify, or delete the data in the database.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): In an XSS attack, malicious scripts are injected into trusted websites, which then run in the user's browser. The attacker can use this to steal information or perform actions on behalf of the user.
Zero-Day Exploits: These attacks take advantage of software vulnerabilities that are unknown to the software's creators. Because there's no patch available, these vulnerabilities can be exploited until they are discovered and fixed.
Ransomware: This type of malware encrypts the user's data and demands payment in return for the decryption key. Ransomware attacks have been particularly common and damaging in recent years.
Credential Stuffing: In these attacks, the attacker uses stolen account credentials (usernames and passwords) to gain unauthorized access to user accounts. This is made possible by the common practice of users reusing passwords across multiple accounts.
Drive-by Downloads: These attacks involve downloading malicious software onto a user's device without their knowledge, often just by visiting a compromised website.
This is not an exhaustive list, and new types of attacks are being developed all the time as technology evolves and new vulnerabilities are discovered. The best defence is to stay informed about the latest threats and to practice good cybersecurity hygiene, such as using strong, unique passwords, keeping software up to date, and being careful about what you download and which websites you visit.
What is multi-factor authentication and why should I use it?
Using multi-factor authentication provides a higher level of security than just using a username and password. Even if an attacker manages to guess or steal your password, they would also need access to your second factor (like your phone) to gain access to your account. This makes it significantly more difficult for an unauthorised person to gain access to your information.
MFA is especially important for accounts that contain sensitive information, such as your email, banking, or social media accounts. Even if it's a bit more inconvenient, the additional security is usually worth it. Just remember that while MFA significantly increases your account security, no method is completely foolproof. It's still important to use strong, unique passwords and to be cautious of phishing attempts and other scams.
Examples include someone accessing your banking, then being prompted for MFA and you accidently accepting it on the phone, thinking it's you. Be sure to read the IP address/location (if available) and if you didn't trigger the MFA then be sure to quickly change your password!
MFA can be used to reset passwords and when it's enabled you won't be able to reset or change your password without it. This adds an extra layer of protection to keep hackers out. The old way of doing this was a secondary email which most people forget the login too..presenting more headaches. If you can, we recommend turning on MFA for all your accounts.
What is the benefits of a password manager?
You manage your domain via your domain provider such as Free Parking, 1stDomains etc. We'll point the domain as a DNS provider such as Cloudflare or Cloudns, allowing us to make DNS changes to your website in realtime without needing access to your domain provider.
Never let a web host, IT contractor or web designer manage your domain. We've seen far too many businesses end up losing access to their site due to a rogue individual, company going bankrupt or worse, being held to ransom by ex employee or vendor. Recovering a domain name can cost upwards of $3,000+gst and take 3 months and may not be successful either. An appeal costs $8,000 and could take a further 3 months, meanwhile your domain name is completely unuseable.
What are the most popular antivirus programs?
Free Antivirus Programs:
Avast Free Antivirus
AVG AntiVirus Free
Avira Free Security Suite
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
Kaspersky Security Cloud Free
Microsoft Defender Antivirus (Windows Defender)
Panda Free Antivirus
Sophos Home Free
Paid Antivirus Programs:
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus
Norton AntiVirus Plus
McAfee Total Protection
Avast Pro Antivirus
Avira Antivirus Pro
ESET NOD32 Antivirus
Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security
Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus
VIPRE Advanced Security
G Data Antivirus
Panda Dome Essential
TotalAV Antivirus Pro
ESET Smart Security Premium
McAfee AntiVirus Plus
Symantec Endpoint Protection
Trend Micro Maximum Security.
Please note that popularity and effectiveness can vary over time, so it's always a good idea to research and compare different antivirus programs before making a decision.
Someone else is accessing my email, how do I block them?
If you suspect that someone else is accessing your email, it's crucial to act swiftly to secure your account. Here are the steps you should take:
Change your password: This is the most immediate way to prevent someone from accessing your account. Make sure to create a strong, unique password that isn't easily guessable.
Enable multi-factor authentication: If it's available, multi-factor authentication (also called two-factor or two-step verification) adds an extra layer of security to your account. Even if someone knows your password, they won't be able to access your account without the second factor (like a code sent to your phone). Then if they do request it, you'll know and may even have a copy of their IP address to see if it's a family member, ex-partner or someone overseas trying to access your account.
Review your account's security settings: Check your account's security settings to make sure they're all set correctly. Look for any unfamiliar email addresses or phone numbers as backups or recovery options, as these could be signs that someone else has access to your account.
Check for any suspicious activity: Many email providers allow you to see recent activity on your account, including the locations and devices from which your account has been accessed. Review this information for any signs of unauthorised access.
Sign out of all other sessions: (Our favourite after enabling MFA) Most email services have an option to sign out of all other sessions. This will immediately log out anyone who is logged into your account on another device. If you have MFA re-enabled, without this, they'll never be able to access your email again.
Update your recovery information: Make sure that your recovery email address and phone number are up-to-date. This information is used to verify your identity and help you recover your account if you get locked out.
Run a virus and malware scan: If your account was compromised, it's possible that your device has been infected with malware or spyware/keylogger that could be tracking all your activity. Run a scan with a reliable antivirus program to check for and remove any threats.
Be careful with phishing attempts: Once your account has been compromised, it's possible that the intruder may have sent phishing emails to your contacts. Warn them not to click on suspicious links or provide any personal information.
Remember, it's important to take steps to prevent unauthorized access in the first place. Always use strong, unique passwords, don't click on suspicious links, and keep your devices and software up-to-date.
What should I do if I get hacked or get a virus on my machine?
The first step is to remove Internet access to the infected device/s. Disable wireless or unplug the Ethernet cable. Most malicious software is designed to send information back to the attackers for a ransom, or to harvest your data, or explore your internal network looking for files on unprotected NAS or USB devices to lock or steal files. By removing your Internet connection you're stopping this from spreading. Next run an antivirus scan if you've got software on the device. If you have Microsoft Defender running, check any logs and reports there. If you can find the source, remove it. If you can't, then contacting an IT tech early as possible is the best chance to remove.
If your files have been locked from ransomware or a blackmail scam, stopping the process as quickly as possible is recommended, so removing Internet access is critical.
What is the best way to backup my data?
We recommend the 3 step approach for best data protection. You want your data backed up in 3 places. Therefore if one or even two locations are no longer operational, you will still have your data. We recommend:
This may sound like overkill for most people but you need to take a look at your situation. If you're a business storing other peoples personal data or health records, you may have strict legislation to follow which includes data protection and redundancy if a drive were to fail or your business was the victim of a ransomware attack due to an employees misjudgement on installing or clicking on a link from an email. Imagine having to tell your customers you've lost their data or worse, their previous records are non recoverable, the damage to your business...
Likewise if you're a small business or contractor you may need to keep tax records for 7 years. Would you trust your computer to still be around in 7 years from now? Most tech lasts a few years these days.
Kapiti.IT can help with all your data backup needs and make recommendations based on your personal situation.
How do I recover from a ransomware attack?
If you've been hit by a ransomware attack, it can be a daunting and stressful situation. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to respond:
Isolate infected devices: The first thing you should do is disconnect the infected device from your network to prevent the ransomware from spreading to other devices. This includes both wired and wireless connections.
Identify the ransomware: Try to identify the type of ransomware you've been hit with. The ransom message itself might include this information. Knowing the type of ransomware can sometimes help in finding a decryption tool or appropriate steps for recovery. However, be careful not to touch any files or follow any instructions from the attacker at this stage.
Report the attack: Contact your local law enforcement agency to report the cybercrime. You can also report the incident to your country's cybercrime unit. In the United States, you can report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Preserve evidence: If possible, take screen captures or photos of ransom messages and keep a record of all communications with the attackers. This could be useful in a future investigation.
Remove the ransomware: This should be done by a professional or someone with technical expertise. They will typically boot the infected device in safe mode, install an updated antivirus program if one isn’t already present, and then run a scan to locate and isolate the ransomware.
Restore your files: If you have recent backups of your files, and you're sure they haven't been compromised, you can restore them once the ransomware has been removed. Be very careful during this process to avoid reinfection. This is why data backup is critical for some businesses, but without a backup you may never be able to recover your files and data.
Seek professional help: In many cases, it's advisable to seek help from a cybersecurity professional or firm. They have experience dealing with these situations and can provide guidance on the best course of action.
Check for a decryption tool: Some cybersecurity companies and organizations provide free decryption tools for certain types of ransomware. You can check websites like No More Ransom (nomoreransom.org) for potential solutions.
Be wary of paying the ransom: Law enforcement agencies generally advise against paying the ransom. Payment doesn't guarantee that you'll get your data back, and it encourages criminals to continue their activities. However, each situation is unique, and whether or not to pay is a decision only you can make.
Prevention is key: After dealing with a ransomware attack, it's crucial to take steps to prevent future attacks. This includes regularly updating and patching systems, using reputable security software, avoiding suspicious links or attachments, and regularly backing up important data to an offline or cloud-based service.
Remember, the best defense against ransomware is a good offense. Regularly backing up your data, keeping your software up-to-date, and practicing good cybersecurity hygiene can greatly reduce your risk of falling victim to ransomware.
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