Computer security does not require a degree or years of experience. All it requires is someone to show you the way.
You can’t buy computer security. It is something obtained through configuration and knowledge. This is not hard to do or obscure to learn. Security software and Hardware is an important part of keeping safe but if configured incorrectly will not protect you. Purchasing Antivirus/Security software to protect you is not the answer. Choosing the right tools/information doesn’t have to cost the earth.
The look after me document PCDial places on our customers desktops is intended to help get started, we hope you find it useful.
Look after your Windows PC –
On your PC’s desktop there is a folder Icon called “Look after Me” (if not, please contact the PC Dial team).
The purpose of this folder is to show some basic steps that will help look after a Windows computer and to keep it running correctly. There are also some tips on keeping you and your data safe on and off line. Many of the tasks can be run automatically. Make sure by manually checking that these tasks are successfully being completed.
The contents of the folder are made up of Shortcuts to information or programs to guide you.
Get safe on line –
www.getsafeonline.org has lots of useful advice on keeping you and your computer safe online at home and work. Please look at this periodically as this could save you from being caught by the latest online scam.
Be Cyber Streetwise is a cross-government campaign, funded by the National Cyber Security Programme, and delivered in partnership with the private and voluntary sectors. The campaign is led by the Home Office, working closely with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office.
Ask PCDial for Help
This link will take you to the PC Dial websites support page, once there call the team on 01275 463217. PC Dial can interactively connect to your computer so you can show us exactly what is on your screen.
PC Dial use GoToAssist, the number 1 Global Market Leader in Remote Support for six years running.
You can also contact PC Dial support through our website
Be Safer –
Removing Admin Rights Mitigates 92% Of Critical Microsoft Vulnerabilities! March 2010.
Unfortunately, far too often we see Computers where the only user account is the Admin Account. For normal use your account should have only Standard User Permissions. The Administrator account should only be used for installing or updating software and running programs that require Admin rights, normal maintenance or programs that change system settings. If you have software that you rely on that requires you to run as a Admin user or asks you to disable Users Access Controls check with the provider to see if this can be resolved by an updated version that does not require this access, if not consider changing software provider.
You can check this in the Control Panel\User Accounts\Manage Accounts
The Daily Backup folder –
Backup, Backup, Backup! (The most important off all!)
This link will differ on some desktops depending on the system used, please check the backup software on regular basis to make sure it’s working (check daily), and it is also good practice to restore your backups on a regular basis.
The Golden rule is having at least three copies of your data. More is better.
- The working copy, the stuff on your computer.
- Both on site and off site backups are important. Onsite normally being a copy of not just your files but your computers operating system, programs and settings that is close to hand to enable fast and easy access to files, or quickly restore a complete computer in the event of hardware failure. Off site could be from taking a copy of your data to your Parent’s house to using an online provider.
- Make a recovery plan and test it, don’t forget to include details of any software or hardware you rely on for example settings install media, licence keys, or subscription details in case of hardware failure forcing you to either totally reload or move to a new computer.
- If sensitive data is included on your backup make sure this is encrypted, especially if this data is stored in online storage or taken off site on portable storage.
For more information on Backup or if you are unsure what is protecting your data please contact the team at PC Dial
A strong password is your first line of defence against intruders and imposters.
- Never give out your password to anyone.
- Don’t just use one password, if your details are found for one site hackers will try other services you use.
- Make the password at least 12 characters long. The longer the better.
- Include numbers, capital letters and symbols. (Useful info from Gibbson research here.)
- Don’t use dictionary words on their own. Try a random sentence or three random words and change some letters for symbols and numbers, make some characters upper case. For example “Ch1ckens-ArE-HI+p=s”
- Consider using a password manager.
- Consider using multi-factor authentication.
To log in to your Bank multi-factor authentication should already be required, many other major services now offer this service some of these are.
LastPass is a really useful service which allows you to store your passwords securely. This means you can have a different password for all of your accounts without having to remember many complicated passwords. All you need to remember is the password to your LastPass account, and it does the rest for you. This is far more secure than just having the same password for all of your accounts. It can be used on many platforms including your phone or tablet, and you can use it for free with most of the features enabled. It can be downloaded from the link in your “Look after me” folder.
Lastpass also offers Multifactor authentication for extra security. PC Dial strongly recommend that this functionality is used.
If LastPass seems a bit over whelming LockNote is a small program which allows you to store text behind a very secure encryption algorithm. This means that you can store important information inside LockNote and be confident that nobody will be able to see it. For example, you could use it to store account information. The best part is it is as easy as using Notepad but with a password.
Password Safe –
Password Safe was created by Bruce Schneier it is an application that stores an encrypted file on your PC and allows you to safely and easily create a secured and encrypted user name/password list. With Password Safe all you have to do is create and remember a single “Master Password” of your choice in order to unlock and access your entire user name/password list.
In the Weekly Folder – Security Software –
With the total of known Malware just under five hundred million in February 2016 it is important that suitable security software is installed on all of your devices.
Try https://www.av-test.org/en/statistics/malware/ for up to date information and statistics, there are also independent tests on how effective different security products perform.
Choose the right product for the device and its use, for example, work computers use F-Secure PSB. Also covered are Smart phones and Tablets. Personal and family devices use F-Secure SAFE. Portable devices like Laptops, Smart phones and Tablets have F-Secure Freedom added for protection when connecting to open or unknown networks while away from office or home.
Basic maintenance checks
- Check the program reports all feature are on and working.
- Check software is updating properly
- Conduct a full scan of your PC
- If the security software prompts don’t just allow or say OK, read what the software is asking if unsure why or what is being asked find out!
For PC Dial support customers the security software PC Dial recommends is F-Secure PSB. A managed service that allows PC Dial to monitor the status of the security software and alerts PC Dial if anything suspicious is detected, disabled or operating system and programs installed require security patches.
In your “Look after me” folder Select the F-Secure icon in the Weekly folder.
This will open the main F-Secure window. First, check you have the big green tick on the left of the window this shows the software is operational. If there is a red cross in its place, this means the software has detected a problem. The problem and resolution will be displayed in this window.
Next select Update button. This will test that the software is fully updated. It is important to make sure the software is updated, as new updates will improve protection against the latest security threats.
Next, return to the “Home” screen and conduct a full system scan. This is done by selecting the “Full computer scan” from the drop down menu of the Scan button. It is likely that a full system scan on older computers may take some time to run, so it is recommended that this is done at the end of the day or over a lunch break, this task can be automated.
If the scan does find an infected or suspicious files, don’t panic. Just select the “Quarantine” option at the end of the scan. If the software is having problems removing a threat, please contact us.
In the Monthly Folder –
Disk Cleanup removes unneeded temporary files that build up over time through normal use of your computer. Disk Defragmenter reorganises files on the drive so that they can be accessed more efficiently and quickly, while Secunia PSi checks Windows and third party software installed is updated and secure.
Disk Cleanup –
Select the Disk Cleanup Icon in inside the monthly folder.
When the program has finished scanning the hard drive this window will appear. This may take some time if disk clean-up is not run regularly.
In this window, tick all of the boxes corresponding to files which you wish to clear. If you have an earlier version of Microsoft Office, do not tick “Install Files”- if you delete these you will have to reinstall Microsoft Office from the disk. Select OK.
Disk Defragmenter / Optimize –
Over time, both the file and the hard disk itself become fragmented, and your computer slows down as it has to look in many different places to open a file. Disk Defragmenter is a tool that rearranges the data on your hard disk and reunites fragmented files so your computer can run more efficiently.
This task requires an Admin password.
Select the Disk Defragmenter Icon in the monthly folder.
This window will appear. Select the operating system drive (eg “(C:)”) then select Defragment Disk or Optimize on later systems. This could take some time so plan to do this whilst away from the PC as it can slow the PC down while running. This can be set to run automatically at a convenient time, make sure to check regularly that the task is being carried out.
Should SSD Hard drives be defragmented? –
This applies to Windows 7, 8 and 10, for XP and Vista contact the drive manufacture as the Defrag program is not suitable for SSD drives. In all cases if unsure contact the manufacture, very often they provide their own tools to maintain drives.
SSD’s file system do sometimes needs a kind of defragmentation that’s intelligently handled by Windows, monthly by default, when appropriate. The intent is to maximize performance and a long life. If you disable defragmentation completely, you are taking a risk that your filesystem could reach maximum fragmentation and get you potentially in trouble.
For more information see Scott Hanselman’s article, The real and complete story – Does Windows defragment your SSD? .
A sad fact is the failure rate for any type of Hard Drive is 100% so Backup, Backup, Backup!
PSI Secunia –
(For PC Dial support customers F-secure PSB security software provides this functionality.)
Admin rights required.
Select the PSI Secunia Icon from the Monthly folder and right click from menu displayed select Run as administrator, you will then be prompted to enter the admin details.
The below window will be displayed. It will show if any applications need attention. In this example, Mozilla Firefox requires an update.
To update Firefox, click on “Select language”, select your language from the drop down menu and clock OK. Firefox will automatically begin to download and install the latest updates, or PSI Secunia may open a link directly to the supplier’s website. If you find that a program is end-of-life or there are no fixes or updates, it is recommended to remove the software and find an alternative. For more information see http://www.flexerasoftware.com.
If updating an application causes a problem, System restore can be used to put the PC back to the point before the update was applied.
In the After Second Tuesday folder – Windows Update –
Microsoft, after the second Tuesday of each month releases security and system updates. Windows will try and keep up-to-date on its own, however it is important to manually check that this is working as a failure in this system may go unnoticed and leave the system vulnerable.
This task may require an Admin password.
To start Windows Update select the Windows update icon in the “After Second Tuesday” folder.
This window will be displayed, Install important and critical updates these should be selected for you by default, only install optional updates if you are sure you need a specific application or hardware driver updated or added to the system.
By clicking on the optional updates this will display what they are so you can decide if they are required or not.
The system may ask to reboot when the updates are installed. If updating an application causes a problem, System restore can be used to put the PC back to the point before the update was applied.
This does not replace the need for a proper Backup.
Restoring from a system restore point –
This task requires an Admin password.
This takes your PC back to an earlier point in time. Restore points are generated when you install a new application, driver or Windows update, and when you create a restore point manually. Restoring won’t affect your personal files, but it will remove apps, drivers and updates installed after the restore point was made.
Right-click (or press and hold) the Start button, then select Control Panel.
Search Control Panel for Recovery.
Select Recovery > Open System Restore > Next.
Choose the restore point related to the problematic app, driver or update, then select Next > Finish.
Note from PC Dial –
The support Team PC Dial