Internet Safety

Our Top 6 Internet Safety Guidelines

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We have all heard stories about people being held to ransom by their own computer, an identity being stolen online, or even credit card information and passwords being stolen. Many of these occurrences can be traced back to the end user not being diligent when opening emails, clicking on links, downloading files etc.

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So here are our top 6 rules when browsing online:

  1. Keep your personal information private

Personal information in the public domain can be used against you maliciously in a multitude of ways – the best way to avoid this is keep your personal information offline.

  1. Ensure privacy settings are switched on

To further ensure information isn’t unintentionally gleamed from you; ensure that you enable privacy settings on web browsers, social media, etc. as some sites will try and gleam as much information as possible, whether for marketing or to sell on. This includes when they ask you to opt in - seriously consider what information you might be allowing even reputed sites to take.

  1. Maintain safe browsing habits

If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. It’s very commonplace for a tempting offer, a link to something that sounds very appealing or a notification that you’ve won a competition. One unthought-out click could expose your data or even put malware onto your device.

  1. Ensure you are using a secure internet connection or WiFi network

As we discussed in our article Is Public WIFI Worth the Risk?, using a public WiFi network opens you up to all sorts of vulnerabilities as you can’t tell where your data is being routed. We strongly recommend not using any personal information or login credentials when connected to an unknown or public WiFi.

  1. Be careful what you download

The easiest way for a cybercriminal to get a virus or malware onto a targets PC is for them to voluntarily download it. When you are downloading from the internet, make sure you are getting it from the provider’s webpage and from a site that you trust.

  1. Maintain strong passwords

One of the biggest vulnerabilities and typically an easy target for those with malicious intent, is the end-user’s password. People tend to use passwords that are easy to remember, and typically easy to guess (or brute force). We suggest using at least a 10-character password and a combination of letters, numbers and characters. It is also common to use a password manager, which can generate a password of varying complexities for all websites, using one master password for the password manager. Obviously, it is crucial to use a very complicated password for the manager as it is a single point of failure, and enable two factor authentication wherever possible.

For more information regarding internet safety and how you can better protect your information, get in contact with one of our team members.

How Important Are Windows Updates?

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We’ve all seen the notifications for when Windows Updates are available, and I’m sure most of us have thought to ourselves “Again?! I only just installed one last week!”.

Have you ever thought to yourself why they pop up at what seems to be the most inopportune moments, and with such importance?

What is a Windows Update?

Windows Update is an inbuilt Microsoft service used for periodic updating of system files, to patch known issues and vulnerabilities with Microsoft products. This includes the Windows OS itself, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Edge, etc.

Each Microsoft Update is assigned an associated Knowledge Base number (KB) which gives further information on the updates. Updates are classified as one of four types:

Critical Updates

  • These fix major issues, found across all Microsoft Products, that cause errors or unexpected functions. Alongside Security Updates, these are the highest priority updates to apply and should be done as soon as possible.

Security Updates

  • Security Updates are applied to address security vulnerabilities which can allow a system to become compromised. Security updates have five different levels of importance; Critical, Important, Moderate, Low or non-rated. Security updates classed as Critical are the most important updates for your system and ignoring these can leave your server or computer vulnerable to hackers and other malicious attacks.
  • Security updates are provided with a Microsoft Security Bulletin number (MS) for further details.

Software Updates

  • Applied to cover non-critical problems, often applying feature updates and addressing minor bugs.

Service Packs

  • Service packs are an amalgamation of all updates up to a certain date, for a specific piece of software or operating system, typically including feature updates.
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How can I ensure that my systems are secure?

All recent Microsoft Operating Systems have in-built automatic updating features, which allows you to schedule and download high-priority updates.

If you are managing multiple desktop computers and even servers, the most efficient and effective way to stay up-to-date is to offload what can be a mammoth task to a Managed Service Provider (MSP). Managed Service Providers employ professionals with years of experience maintaining, reviewing and applying Microsoft patches to a vast range of different environments.

Using monitoring software MSP’s are able to monitor patch statuses remotely and schedule regular patching cycles to ensure that all critical and relevant patches are applied as soon as they are available. If issues are to arise from any patches pushed by Microsoft, your MSP is able to analyse the issue and determine which patches can be causing the issue and disable them, or roll-back where necessary.

By removing the burden of responsibility internally and placing it in the hands of experienced professionals, you can rest easy knowing that your systems are receiving the best in pro-active care.

If you are interested in what Advance can offer in this scope, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.