Computer Care and Worry Free Computing Habits

 


Computer Maintenance

 

    Computer maintenance (crisis prevention vs. crisis response) is about taking proactive steps to ensure your computer(s) is running as efficiently as possible just like it did when you first purchased it.
    Computer maintenance is about assuring your important data will be protected and available when you need it, even in the event your system fails or sustains a malicious attack.
    Computer maintenance is about guaranteeing your system is running with the latest software patches and updates, which address known issues and vulnerabilities that might put your system and information at risk.
    And finally, computer maintenance is about allowing you to be as effective as possible when using your computer, without the frustrations associated with a system not performing as you would expect!

 

Managed Services

 

    There are a couple ways to handle your computer(s) maintenance; Break-Fix or Managed.
    The first is where you only call for support when something breaks (e.g., your computer won't turn on, your system is running unbearably slow, constantly displays a message, or an issue prevents you from doing what you want, and so you call for help). With this model you have down time, basically the time it takes for your computer person to get out and fix and/or resolve the problem. It's usually at this time your computer person discovers proper maintenance could have prevented the issue, and acknowledges extra time & attention will be required to get your system up-to-date and running as it should...
    With the second option, your IT service person schedules regular visits (i.e., monthly or quarterly etc.) performing preventive maintenance and proactively addressing potential problems. This doesn't mean that you'll never have downtime or experience issues (because computer systems can fail even with the best maintenance), but this can mean you're up and working sooner because your IT person is more familiar with your computer(s) and better understand your systems configuration.

 

Business Continuity Planning (BCP)/Disaster Recovery Planning (DRP)
(i.e., crisis prevention and crisis response)

 

It's never too late to act until you're forced to REACT!
    It's inevitable that a natural disaster (
fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake, or tornado, etc.) will happen and there is a good chance the effects of such will render your computer system(s) incapacitated. Our dependency on technology is fully realized during these events, and how or if you recover and continue business after such can and should be planned...
    A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) understands underlying risks and potential impacts of a disaster should it occur. How a company will respond to events that would significantly disrupt their business. Every company has a BCP to some degree whether acknowledged and stated in print or not (what if scenarios; i.e. what if "this" happened?), and every industry has potentially some of the same risks and impacts while many industries will have unique risks which impact its business much differently.
    A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is actions to recover when a disaster has occurred (what should be done if "this" happened?). A carefully planned DRP will assure a company is up and running in as short a time as possible while a company without a DRP might sustain substantial losses and never fully recover.
    The key word in both BCP and DRP is "PLAN" and you should not have one without the other (i.e. if "this" happens, do "this").

 

Security

 

    "The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards." - Gene Spafford

   
"Companies spend millions of dollars on firewalls, encryption and secure access devices, and it's money wasted, because none of these measures address the weakest link in the security chain." - Kevin Mitnick

    If security isn't in mind from day one, it can be costly to obtain later...Comprehensive security is achieved through layers, and the above quotes speak to a couple key issues within your control;    the computer (system), and the user (
the weakest link). The risks to the system can partly be mitigated through security hardware (firewalls, routers, and security gateways), security software (anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-phishing, ad blocking, etc.) and system policies. The user risk is addressed through configuring the system with appropriate resource permissions, user privileges, then providing a continuing education program to give a better understanding of how to prevent social engineering tactics from being successful.
    Social Engineering maybe the biggest threat to the enterprise and its protected content because of the difficulty of denying user actions while on the system. Today, social websites (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace, Twitter, etc.) are fast becoming the conduit of cracker's getting under your defenses, into your system, and gaining access to your data.

 

Passwords

 

Default Password List- Why securing assets with default passwords is a bad idea…

 

Data Backup

 

It's never to late to protect your data, until it is...
    Be sure to schedule your virus/malware system scan to
complete before running your backup or prior to your scheduled backup! This will help to assure no malicious code is saved within the backup if the unfortunate circumstance requires you to restore your data!
    Also, it's important that your backups be encrypted...in case your backup media get's lost or stolen.

 

Commercial Power

 

    Power surges (high voltage), brownouts (low voltage) and lightning can be the most destructive forces computer systems confront.
    Implementing an appropriate
Uninterruptable Power System (UPS) (i.e., battery backup), and/or a Voltage Regulator (i.e., power conditioner) to protect your computing devices can eliminate the largest part of this threat, and it goes a long way to assure worry free computing, which can be accomplished rather inexpensively when you consider the total cost if your entire system had to be replaced. At minimum, install and connect your computer to a power surge protector.

 

Online Shopping

 

    Before anything else, don't feel guilty when spending extra money with a vendor, supplier, or service provider you have a rapport with and have received added value from. Many purchases these days are trumped by low cost (understandable), but many consumers end up regretting these purchases later due to lack of after-sale service & support. The old adages "you get what you pay for" and "if it's to good to be true, it probably is" still ring true today. Lets face it, cheap is cheap and notable if you don't mind and understand its risk. Sometimes spending a few extra dollars initially, can remove a lot of the stress and frustration which can accompany buying technology and can save you money in the end!
    If you do not feel comfortable shopping online,
DON'T DO IT!    Clearly it's better to err on the side of protecting your information then to be in a situation wishing you had. Purchasing new technology can be an intimidating and sometimes overwhelming undertaking. This is in part due to a competitive marketplace, many different solutions, biased opinions, and plain misinformation. Don't get me wrong, I have my favorite device manufacturers and my own prejudices when it comes to technology...that said, this also means I don't always make the smartest technology decisions!
    When looking into purchasing new computer hardware, software, and/or technology, clarify your need(s), understand what the investment will cost, and work towards getting the most
value for dollars spent. I have come to realize taking the necessary time to make an informed purchase is advantageous, benefitting from the experience of other buyers in your industry can help reduce risk of owning a solution which doesn't best fit your need(s), and goes a long way to assuring you end up with the best bargain possible!
    Remember, having the latest and greatest computer gadget may be popular, but having technology you can afford is always smart! Now, go forth and shop…

 

Online Safety

 

My ID Score- My ID Score is a free public service that gives you a new way to quickly assess your risk of identity theft.
GetNetWise- a public service brought to you by internet industry corporations and public interest organizations to help ensure that internet users have safe, constructive, and educational or entertaining online experiences.
Stay Safe Online- National Cyber Security Alliance
Reclaim Privacy- This website provides an independent and open tool for scanning your Facebook privacy settings.
Connect Safely- ConnectSafely is for parents, teens, educators, advocates - everyone engaged in and interested in the impact of the social Web.
Web Wise Kids- Web Wise Kids is about empowering today's youth to make wise choices online.
Code Amber News Service (CANS)- Abductions by a stranger are the most terrifying of crimes...
Family Online Safety Institute- The Family Online Safety Institute works to make the online world safer for kids and their families by identifying and promoting best practice, tools and methods in the field of online safety, that also respect free expression.
Map Sex Offenders- Nation Wide Sex Offender Mapping
STOP Sex Offenders!- Your source for child & family safety information
family watchdog- Awareness is your best defense.
Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW)- coordinated by the U.S. Department of Justice, is a cooperative effort between the jurisdictional agencies hosting public sexual offender registries and the federal government. This Website is a search tool allowing a user to submit a single national query to obtain information about sex offenders through a number of search options.
Hacker High School- The Hacker High School project is the development of license-free, security and privacy awareness teaching materials and back-end support for teachers of elementary, junior high, and high school students.
stopbadware.org- a partnership among academic institutions, technology industry leaders, and volunteers, all of whom are committed to protecting Internet and computer users from the threats to privacy and security that are caused by bad software.
badwarebusters.org- a community of people working together to fight back against viruses, spyware, and other bad software.
Consumer Reports WebWatch- WebWatch will investigate, inform, and improve the quality of information published on the World Wide Web.
Center for Screen-Time Awareness- Making screen-time-reduction a vital and integral part of all plans that improve health, education and wellness while building stronger families and communities.
Ripoff Report...by consumers, for consumers
Common Computing Security Standards (CCSS)- The CCSS Forum is a voluntary organization of security software vendors, operating system providers, and Internet browser software creators, working together to mitigate the risk of malware and protect consumers worldwide.
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse- The real danger is the gradual erosion of individual liberties through the automation, integration, and interconnection of many small, separate record-keeping systems, each of which alone may seem innocuous, even benevolent, and wholly justifiable.