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Cryptolocker / Gameover Zeus: 5 steps to stay protected!

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Yet again the news is full of warnings over the latest security threat. I don’t know about you, but the number of warnings are beginning to get a bit old…  Well this time, we are being warned about backing up and ensuring our anti-virus is up-to-date. I know you are fed up with all this and aren’t sure what the basics are any more. This is my guide to software and services I use to minimise my risk.

A good summary of the latest threat is in the following article, Cryptolocker/Gameover Zeus Information on GetSafeOnline.org

Right, now to get the basics you need to have in place to protect yourself against this and many other Internet threats.

1. Get and keep Windows Up-to-date

Use Automatic Windows Updates to keep your PC up to date – How to Turn Automatic Windows Updates on and off – Microsoft.com (note you can set the Windows version in the top right)

2. Use Anti-virus

Anti-virus will not protect you against all threats, but it will help reduce the risks. I have used many over the years and although Microsoft’s Anti-virus is not the best, it is free and it does the job without interrupting you as a user. This is installed as standard on Windows 8 and 8.1, you just need to make sure it is enabled.  Download Microsoft Anti-Virus from Microsoft.com for Windows Vista and Windows 7.

3. Backup your PC

Backup is traditionally something we all hate to plan and take the time to sort out. Over the years I have tried lots of solutions and I found that they either required repeated user intervention or they were insufficient when it came to restoration. The most important fact is that you need two backups of your data. I can hear you asking why, well what if one backup fails when you need it most? I use a combination of onsite backup (an external hard drive) and offsite backup (on-line backup). For the onsite backup I use Windows Backup to an external drive – How to Geek guide to Windows 7 and 8 backup is a great article on how to set up and use Windows Backup. For online backup I use CrashPlan for all my computers. Over the last 3 years the service has been rock solid. It takes a long time to completely back up, but once it is all backed up and only uploading changes, it works perfectly. There is a cost, but the costs are very reasonable and offer an unlimited packages which is great if you have lots of data.

4. Look after your passwords

There are lots of articles on passwords and a wide range of solutions. I have opted to use LastPass which helps you manage your online passwords with increased security. 

5. Use OpenDNS

OpenDNS helps protect you from Phishing websites by checking every webpage your computer requests. This is a free service with full instructions on how to set it up at opendns.com

Finally, take some online quizs to see how good you are at detecting phishing attempts like this one from opendns.com or this one by Sonicwall.

Take the above steps and know you will be in good shape for most Internet threats.

Tell me what you think in the comments below or on twitter @timdixon82

By Tim Dixon

Tim Dixon has worked in IT for over 20 years, specifically within the Testing Inspection and Certification industry. Tim has Cone Dystrophy, a progressive sight loss condition that impacts his central vision, colour perception and makes him sensitive to light. He likes to share his experience of life and how he navigates the abyss of uncertainty.

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