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10 Summer Computer Security Tips: Protect Devices From Power Surges And Data Theft

Summer is here. You may like out hanging at the beach or pool during the summer but make sure that you are protected from natural disaster and cyber attacks if you let your computer running.

Are You Ready For Disaster?

Summer Security Tips For Windows

1 Always make redundant backups (backups of your backups)

Backups can become corrupted or the drive can malfunction. Without redundant backups you are exposing yourself to unnecessary risk.

2 Make sure your computers and devices are secured with a surge protector, especially during summer times

Ok, imagine the following scenario: A lightning strike hits your house causing an extreme surge and all your electronic devices are currently running. What do you think will happen? Without a surge protector all of your electronic devices that are turned on will go bust and even when they are not turned on you can still get very unlucky. Telecommunication lines and water pipes can be potential conductors. Also, if you currently have an ethernet cable plugged in from your broadband router when a lightning strike hits, your computer will be toasted as well. Ethernet cables can be excellent conductors for power surges. That’s why modern surge protectors from APC provide an ethernet cable port, but if you don’t use it, it’s your own fault and the insurance may not cover the damage.

But even a surge protector can be overwhelmed by a lightning strike due to the extreme power of the discharge. There are even some theories that in the future lightning strikes could help power the earth when we learn how to harness them properly. 1 lightning strikes carries the amount of 145 litres of petrol energy. Just think about that magnitude for a second. The environmental costs of petrol energy are high, but lightning strikes happen all the time around the world and are basically free energy. According to some data, every second there are 44 lightning flashes on planet earth.

Here’s a power surge protector that will also act as a power supply when a power outage occurs so that you can safely shut down any devices connected to it:

3 Make sure to grant correct permissions and use WPA2

If you share data on networks but forget to password-protect your network it’s up for grabs for anyone on the network. If outsiders gain access to your network, they will have access to that data without hacking into your system. Wifi networks can still be easily hacked with a few tools. It’s not rocket-science, especially if you use outdated wireless security protocols such as WPA or WEP.

If your router supports it, always use WPA2, which uses AES encryption. AES is being used by the government and is considered the safest algorithm. It is unclear whether the NSA has cracked AES-256, but regular hackers will have problems gaining access to your network. It would take a very large number of operations to crack it.

4 Always use a randomly generated password with special characters

Passwords should include special characters, numbers, upper/lowercase letters and be at least 16 characters long. Use a password manager to store them.

5 Make sure to have off-site backups to protect against weather or theft

When natural disasters happen, it’s good to have an off-site backup. You could rent a safe at your local bank or if you don’t trust the banks, ask a friend/family to store it for you. Cloud backups are also helpful if you use AES-256 encryption for your backups.

6 Always use 2-factor authentication when available.

2-factor auth is the norm these days. Use it whenever possible, even for smaller sites and services.

7 Make sure to use proper authentication for all directories that are available from the outside

Whether you run a home network or a simple streaming device, they can be used against you. By hacking your WiFi, outsiders can easily compromise your network, then it is good to have some kind of authentication.

8 Make sure to patch your system software frequently

Flash, Java, Firefox and so on need to be updated frequently or you risk exposing yourself to exploits on the internet. Make sure to patch them every few months.

9 Don’t turn off UAC on Windows! Linux: Learn what a wheel group is.

Microsoft keeps recommending not to turn off the UAC system (User account control), there’s a reason for that. If someone gains access to your machine they can run any command if UAC is turned off. It’s a basic control system that prevents non-admin users from running certain programs. With that being said, make sure you are not using an Administrator account for your regular activity. Create a new user account on Windows 7 or 8 and dont give it administrator permissions.

If you are running Linux, you probably know what a wheel-group is. If you run Ubuntu and don’t know what is and how someone can exploit it, then read up on it. Allowing root users to log into your servers is rarely a good thing. This also goes for any local Ubuntu machine you are running.

10 When dealing with certain companies make sure not to allow verification via credit card information

Credit card information can be easily guessed by a sophisticated hacker since they only need the last 4 numbers. Always make sure to add 2-factor auth and telephone PINs whenever available.

Know Of Any Great Summer Security Tips? Let Us Know In The Comments

If you know of any other great tips to keep computers secure and protected from natural disaster, let us know in the comments.

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Published: Sunday, July 19th, 2015 Last Modified: July 19, 2015

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