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> Protect Your Computer And Data From Viruses And Ransomware, by Michael Pavlides
post 5 Dec 2015, 09:57 PM
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During the last months, some of the most harmful computer viruses have re-emerged with different names and security penetration techniques. The worst type of computer viruses is called Ransomware; viruses that will irreversibly encrypt your files and demand payment for the decryption code. Until today, encrypted files from these viruses can not be decrypted. Some antivirus software companies claim that in some virus cases, the encryption keys are generated in a predictable way. However, this gives a very small glimpse of hope, in case your computer and files are harmed from these viruses. It seems that this kind of cyber terrorism is here to stay and you can never know if and when it can reach you.

This article provides information about security measures you can take, that will harden your computerĘs security and make access to your pc from malicious internet scripts and hackers extremely difficult.
  1. Please ensure that you use a password to log in to your computerĘs operating system. The password should be strong, contain letters, numbers and at least one symbol. If you have not set a password yet, we strongly recommend you to set one as soon as possible (Windows 7: Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety > User Accounts > Set or Change a Password).
  2. Uninstall from you computer software that is not used or needed.
  3. Use a Firefox based browser (for example Cyberfox or Pale Moon) with Master Password enabled. In order to set a master password in Firefox, or other Firefox based browser, click on the dropdown menu > Options > Options > Security > Use a master password. Chrome does not have master password ability, encrypting passwords using the computerĘs operating system password. This means that if your computerĘs password is somehow hacked, all your passwords to access websites may also been revealed to hackers. Also, unlike Firefox based browsers, Chrome is gradually becoming a tracking engine for Google.
  4. From your browserĘs Add-ons/Extension panel, search, download and install AdBlock Plus as well as its Pop-up Addon (Firefox > Add-ons > Get Add-ons > Search > adblock).
  5. Remove Add-ons/Extensions that are not used and also disable or set to ?Ask to Activate? mode, plugins like Java, Silverlight, Microsoft Office or Adobe detection extensions.
  6. Uninstall Flash Player from your computer or update it to its latest version. Many viruses exploit Flash PlayerĘs privileges to access system files, in order to execute malicious scripts. Flash Player is considered by many leading computer companies unsafe by architecture. Apple does not support it at all on smartphones and pads.
  7. If you use Windows, set User Account Control to Always notify (Windows 7: Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety > User Accounts).
  8. Download and Install Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free edition (https://www.malwarebytes.org/antiexploit/). When installing, our recommendation is to Not Enable free trial of its paid version. Of course you can upgrade it to the non free version in order to also protect pdf and other files. Alternatively, you can download and install the Microsoft Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/de...s.aspx?id=46366).
  9. Ensure you use a paid antivirus - firewall solution. Our company provides Webroot, which we strongly recommend for high end security using very low hardware resources (https://www.angellight.com/web-services). Only one antivirus - firewall must be installed and active on your computer. If you use more than one, you have to uninstall it. If you use Windows with its default antivirus enabled, please disable it as a service or uninstall it if possible.
  10. Always keep you operating system updated with the latest security patches.
  11. Always update installed software, like PDF Viewers, Java or eMail clients, to their latest available versions.
  12. If you are interested to deploy extreme security measures on your computer, you can install the Add-on/Extension ?NoScript? that blocks most script on websites, that you will have to manually enable per website. Also, the WOT (Web of Trust) Add-on will let you know if a website is commonly considered trusted and safe.
You may also consider the following.
  • Always think of your actions while browsing the internet. Prefer to visit commonly known websites accepted from community and search engines.
  • Do not hasten to download a file. Observe if what you click is not a download link, but an animation leading you somewhere else.
  • Do not hasten to install applications that may simultaneously setup unnecessary programs or add-ons to your computer. Deselect or disagree to install this kind of add-ons during the installation process.
  • Always use genuine software on your computer, trusting the support department of each software engineering company and never hesitate to contact them with questions and requests.
  • Do never open email attachments from unknown sources. Office files like word, excel as well as pdfs are very dangerous as they internally also work as browsers, having access permissions to download content from internet pages.
  • Always use different passwords for your internet accounts; you can for example use a standard pattern and change one or two characters per website for your convenience.
  • Never believe fake opportunities given by unknown people to earn money via the internet. There always is some trick behind to steal your email address, make you click on advertisements or make you pay money for useless services.
  • Try to not exchange data via flash drives with users that you do not have knowledge taking security seriously. Always scan a flash drive before use.
  • Prefer to shut down your computer if you do not use it. This will save you energy and also reduces the possibility of unauthorized actions to your computer from hackers.
  • Keep in mind that a catastrophic virus may warn you when applying malicious activities by increased noise from your hard drives and by high resource usage not based on your actions.
  • For cases where potentially harmful tests have to be made, consider installing a separate test environment on a virtual machine, using virtualization software like Windows Virtual PC.
  • Always keep regular backups for important files and for even better security, keep second backups on a location different than your home or office.
  • Do never keep your backup mediums consistently connected to your computer. Backup and remove or disconnect them from your computer.
  • If you use a remote server for backup, ensure that it does not have reverse write access to your computer (you can connect to it but this cannot connect to your computer).
  • If you use a backup service like Dropbox or Google Drive, make sure it is not installed as a hard drive on your computer. If this is necessary for you, consider starting and stopping their hard drive mount service manually or scheduled, for backup operations only.
  • Prefer to keep your files to hard disk drives than SSD devices. You can use SSD for your operating system only. In case of failure, you may be able to restore files from a hard disk drive, but restoring from a broken SSD drive is almost impossible.
Computer technologies, in general, should not be provided with such vulnerabilities. Viruses should not be able to destroy your data in such ways. Operating systems should not need extra security software and measures in order to provide the basic, safe and normal environment to work. A new way of software development should be invented in order to provide the ability of genuinely secure operating system creation. For now this seems rather unlikely, so it is better to take security in your own hands and protect your digital intellectual property and labor.

Michael Pavlides
CEO, Research & Development
angellight Services Ltd

Source : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/protect-your-computer-data-from-viruses-ransomware-michael-pavlides


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