WiFi… the good, the bad, and the ugly! First the good, it’s everywhere you want to be! The bad, is it safe? How would I know? Last the ugly, sometimes evil hacker types (bored teenagers, college kids, or worse!) may be trying to spy on your online activities. I am not saying to never use public WiFi but you don’t really know anything about what you are connecting to. It is possible for the bad guys to create a false Starbucks access point and intercept your traffic. That being the case one should estimate how likely this scenario would be. If you are paying to use internet access at the Hilton maybe not too much risk. If you are using Mom and Pops Coffee Shop free WiFi maybe more risky? Starbucks WiFi less risky? Connecting at a business colleagues office probably no risk? The reality is all of these scenarios have unknown risk. If you know little about the WiFi you want to use, limit your use and don’t do any high risk activities such as: banking, stock trading, or transmitting unencrypted client information. Use sites that are creating a secure connection. For example: https://docs.google.com/document or https://www.amazon.com/
If you really are “on the fly” often and need to use whatever WiFi you can find consider using additional protection. Use your own hotspot or jet pack. If you have phone data use your cellphone hotspot to connect your laptop. When the risk are unknown a virtual private network (VPN) service should be considered. It is also possible to use a travel router to create a more secure connection. For simple task use your smartphone with your carriers network instead of your laptop on iffy WiFi.
Here’s why. A hacked pc or server can be used for multiple nefarious activities. Would you even know if your server stuck back in the closet was serving spam before your internet service provider cut off your internet access? Most business owners would not. It happened to one of my clients who added an additional pc in a conference room cabinet and never told us or installed any security or windows updates. Guess what- one Monday morning the DSL internet provider cut us off and we got blacklisted by an international spam filter. It was a hard and expensive lesson!
Computer Guy consulting can monitor all of your office computers and servers to make sure that all is well. This is one of those ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure deals. If you need a security evaluation or an infection clean up call us and be confident that all is well again. Most downtime and infection issues can be eliminated with an ounce prevention. You are backing up your data right??? -that’s a topic for another post!
Here at Computer Guy we help people figure IT out. Back up systems, computer repairs, software issues, virus and spyware removal, data recovery, network and internet installation and support. If you are a small business and need help Computer Guy Consulting can help you with all your small business IT support.
I am going to paraphrase a really good article from the Kentucky Commonwealth Office of Technology’s monthly newsletter.
Getting pop ups telling you your pc is infected! If you click here and pay $29.99 or $39.99 and we will clean your system. Watch out this is some fake antivirus or antimalware scam.
How do you get this infection? You clicked on a bogus link in a webpage or maybe you clicked on a pop-up. It all looks real and legitimate. This link or pop-up convinces you to click and the bogus software will disinfect and/or protect your system. Some website can infect you just by visiting the site. Hacker and Porn sites are famous for this.
Bad news is your antivirus and antimalware usually don’t offer much protection because they are reactive. This means the newest malware isn’t detectable because the security vendor hasn’t had time to place a signature put in to the malware definitions.
What’s going to happen?
Hard to say. Maybe you won’t notice any issue for days or weeks. All of sudden the computer is slow as sin and your internet connection is “talking” like crazy. You could be giving your keystrokes to a Russian gang. Your browser no longer takes you to google.com when you click on the homepage button. Maybe a trojan horse is installing some hackers program to take control of your system. If you operate the pc in an administrative account (as most users do!) the malware has rights to do just about anything to your system. All manner of changes to your system will now make it down right impossible to remove the rogue program(s).
What can I do for protection?
1 Patch your OS, browser, and various software to keep it updated.
2 Keep your current security software updated and active.
3 Don’t click on any pop-ups for security software.
4 Limit active X and scripting in your browser preferrences. Seek professional help with this from a computer repair shop or a consultant.
5 Back up. Sometimes a bad infection will require a complete reformat and reinstallation of your hard drive and OS.
6 Run your updated antivirus and antispyware at least weekly.
If you are concerned that any of your network pcs may be compromised give us a call. We do small business IT support so you don’t have to!