On Wednesday, January 21, Chris Schleter, our Website Editor, with careers in both Athletic Photography and Data Processing as well project manager for seven Olympic Games and solver of all computer problems along with many other talents, presented a very helpful Brown Bag talk on how to protect your computer. It is your responsibility to keep your computer safe from hacking, malware/viruses and stealthware.
HACKING- Someone is remotely accessing your computer without permission- no one is immune. A strong password is the best defense.
Passwords should have at least 8 characters (longer is better) using upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and special characters. It should be easy to remember but hard to guess. Do not use family member names, your birthday, street numbers, Social Security Numbers or Mother's maiden name.. Use a favorite saying, random words, or a line from a book. Use a different password for each website or application. You can use one base password and add different elements to it for different applications or websites. You can use a password manager which stores all of your passwords and allows you to use one master password to access all of your passwords. There are free and paid versions of password managers. The free versions are okay if you only have one device. Paid versions, such as Last Pass or Dash Lane, costing around $40 a year, allow sharing across devices. To keep your computer safe change your passwords every 90 days.
MALWARE - Any malicious software used to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information or gain access to private computer systems. Examples are Trojans, Viruses, Worms, Ransomware, Spyware, Adware and Scareware. You could have malware on your computer if
- Some software doesn't work as expected
- Computer runs slower than usual
- Friends report emails you didn't send, or
- Your Anti Virus program reports an infection
KEEP YOUR COMPUTER SAFE
You get most viruses from your email! Malware gets installed when you download and install bogus software from sites you don't know (Phishing), use Express install instead of custom install and, possibly, when you unsubscribe from an email list by clicking the link in the email itself. Protect yourself. Go to web site and unsubscribe from site. If you suspect that an email is bogus, never open attachment or click link if it is someone you don't know or email doesn't look right. You can hover your mouse cursor over a link to see where that link actually will send you. Beware particularly careful when you see "php" or "asp" in a web address. Never download or install software unless you are sure the site is safe. Always do a custom install.
Be sure that anti-virus software such as free AVG or Avast or Malware Bytes is installed and up to date. Do frequent scans and be sure Windows is up to date. Run windows updates regularly.
Chris believes that free AVG or Avast is generally as good as a paid antivirus. He advises that you should never run two anti-virus programs at once.
WHAT IF YOUR COMPUTER IS RUNNING SLOW?
Computers run slow for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's from a malware infection but you should also consider:
- How old is your computer? If it is running very slow and if is it 4-5 years old it could be time for a new one.
- How many windows do you have open?
- Have you run a malware scan recently?
- What is installed on the computer and how full is the hard drive.
WHAT IF YOUR INTERNET CONNECTION IS SLOW?
- What kind of connection do you have?
- What Browser are you using?