Protecting Your PC, the Second Line of Defense

You are the first line of defense against your computer getting compromised. Your training and awareness can stop many attacks, but not all of them. The next step is to protect your PC or laptop from infection. If you never update or protect your system it is likely that it can be hacked remotely either by hackers targeting your system directly or from already compromised systems scanning for other machines to take over.

It’s important to always patch ALL the software on your systems and the operating system (Windows, Mac OS) as soon as the vendor releases the update. This includes your office suite and any other applications that you have installed. You are in a race with the hackers who will be writing software code to exploit the flaw as quickly as they can.

Next, you must install a quality anti-virus application. This will protect you from malware that may exploit vulnerabilities that have not yet been patched. It will also scan software that you are installing that may leave back doors into your system or collect personal information like credit card information or sensitive login information and send it to the bad guys. This applies to other operating systems as well such as the Mac OS and Linux. The criminals are not leaving anybody out of the hacking party.

Another less obvious avenue to take over your system is via USB memory sticks or flash drives. Criminals have been known to leave the inexpensive devices laying around an office or hallway with enticing labels such as “Employee Payroll Data.” If someone falls for the trap, their system will automatically be taken over with the software that was installed on the USB device by the criminals. To be more cautious with USB devices, you can turn off the AutoRun/AutoPlay feature in Windows by following these instructions:

It is only through a layered security approach that includes security awareness and hardened, protected systems that you can protect your employer’s critical data, and your personal information.