2 Thoughts on Security

This guest post is from Chris Moroz the Owner of YourII.T., an I.T. and computer repair business in Oklahoma City. They focus on helping small businesses and consumers get the most out of their technology. For more information, you can visit their website (www.YourITok.com) or give them a call (405-367-9090).

Computer security has changed. WIth all the new toys we carry around with us, we might as well call it gadget security nowadays. While there are dozens of security topics that could easily be covered, there are two key areas that seem to be of high interest to our clients.

Let’s get this out of the way right now. You need antivirus software. It doesn’t matter if you use Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. You had better be running some security software. Regardless of how secure the various computer makers claim their software to be, there are viruses for every OS in existence and you need protection. In addition to protecting yourself, antivirus software acts is a vaccine for others. Can you imagine the implications if you inadvertently forward an infected email message to a client or colleague?

With dozens of security products and antivirus solutions available to choose from today, how can you be sure you’re getting the best one for your needs? I’ll make some recommendations in a moment, but first let’s take a look at how most packages work. There are 2 main types of security software available. Antivirus software and Security Suites. Basic Antivirus software is going to do one thing (and presumably do it well): it’s going to keep your computer free from viruses. A Security Suite, by contrast, is going to add-in a firewall, SPAM filtering, website checking, and more. If you’re a safe computer user who doesn’t click on strange emails, knows better than to visit seedy websites, and only shops at reputable online stores, you will likely do fine with a basic antivirus program. However, if you like to click on every link you see, want finite control over security settings, enjoy exploring the underbelly of the Internet and/or install all manner of free software, you will probably need to choose a full security suite.
Here are some of our favorites:

Basic (Free) – Microsoft Security Essentials
Advanced ($50) – Vipre Internet Security (full disclosure – Your|I.T. is a Vipre reseller/affiliate and the this link will take you to our website for info/purchase)

Mac OS X:
Basic (Free) – Sohpos
Advanced ($40) – Eset

Basic (Free) – Avast
Advanced ($40) – Eset

Public WiFi
Free and highly available, public WiFi is everywhere. Starbucks, McDonalds, Joe’s Oil Change, it seems that every business you see now offers free wireless Internet. While convenient, it’s far from secure, and there are some considerations to take when connecting. First, you need to understand that most businesses haven’t given any thought to YOUR security. They likely have separate wireless connections for the office and public, but this only ensures that THEIR systems remain secure. You may be separated from the businesses systems, but the public side is a communal free-for-all (even if you connected via a password). Once you’re on the public wireless, anyone with a little know-how can monitor what websites you’re visiting, steal your passwords, there’s even the potential for them to browse the files on your hard drive. I may sound alarmist, but that’s the point. It’s serious stuff that few people recognize or talk about, so let’s keep you safe.

The most basic ways to ensure you’re protected are to do the following:

1) Set the network to Public. This turns off file sharing and a few other computer settings to help keep you safer. Here’s how you do it in Windows. Unfortunately, this isn’t a very straightforward task in Mac OS X, sorry.
2) Use HTTPS everywhere you can. Instead of going to http://www.gmail.com, go to httpS://www.gmail.com (note that the capitilzation is for emphasis only and is not neccasey when typing in the address). The “S” stands for secure, and creates a secure, encrypted connection to that website. Once there, this prevents anyone else from snooping on you. Banks, email, shopping, and any other websites that require a password usually support this technology. This little trick can you save you a world of headaches.
3) Use a secure VPN service. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Whereas https creates a secure connection to a specific website, a VPN creates a secure connection for your entire computer. Our favorite is HotSpotShield. They offer both a free and paid version, as well as versions for your iOS device and Android.

You can reach Chris Moroz through the Your|I.T. website or give him a call (405-367-9090).

Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."

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