Computer Tips

WALL STREET JOURNAL article 9/14/16 – EXCERPTS TAKEN

The author first writes about how Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook and Hillary Clinton experienced hacking of their servers or private files. He points out that security tools are getting better but so are hacker methods. Here are some recommended steps to take:

  1. ‘Don’t trust institutions – protect yourself.
  2. Encrypt everythiong
  3. A phone with fingerprint access is a ‘must,’
  4. ‘Keep valuable information offline – “air gap” by unplugging the ethernet cable.”
  5. ‘Use multi factor or two-step authentication. 

Computer tips to protect your computer and data, and to help you work more efficiently. by Tom Hirsch, JGSGO VP Programs and Publicity. Updated Jan 2015
1. General computer information

Always practice safe computing!

A. ANTIVIRAL SOFTWARE – when you go online, download updates for your antivirus and antispyware BEFORE going to any websites or checking email. If your antivirus software does not automatically check for and download updates, check the settings and see if you can change the setting for automatic updates. If not, manually check for updates before doing anything else with your computer.

B. SPYWARE AND MALWARE – do a complete virus, spyware, and malware scan of your computer and removable drives once a week. If you can’t do it that often, scan when you can.

C. BACK-UP – back up all of your files once a week, and store backups in more than one location (e.g., home, safe deposit box, at work, at home of relative, and/or on a web-based service).

D. UPDATE SYSTEMS – download and install updates to your operating system, web browser, and other critical programs as often as possible. Your operating system updates should install automatically. Some computer programs require manual updates that you initiate.

E. PROTECTION DURING STORMS – make sure your computer is unplugged from power; your phone line is disconnected from your modem, and your modem is unplugged during lightning storms. It’s best to unplug these whenever you’re not using your computer. Connect them when you are going to use your computer, and disconnect when you turn off your computer. Viruses, spyware, and lightning are the cause of most computer failures, and you can prevent these expensive and data-destroying catastrophes by taking these steps.

F. CHECK CREDIT CARDS – If you use a credit card to pay for services or data, check your statement every month to ensure that you are being charged only for products, services, or subscriptions that you ordered.
2. ORGANIZE FOLDERS AND FILES – Over the years, you can easily generate hundreds of various files that are stored individually in your computer. These need to be organized into folders so you can find them in a reasonable time. Organizing files on your computer is very important. You may have hundreds, maybe thousands of various files scattered loose in various areas of your computer. That is like putting hundreds of documents into the drawer of a file cabinet without organizing them into a clear, simple, logical system of file folders. Finding files in that kind of disorganization is very time-consuming. So I suggest you review the types of files you have, and develop a clear, simple, logical file structure. See the sample folder organization showing the structure that I use. Your file structure will be different from mine, but this can be a guide for you. I have included a photograph of my JGSGO file structure.
3. HARD DRIVE CARE – Over time, your hard drive can approach its functionally useful capacity. When it does the drive runs much less efficiently, and that will cause your computer to run very slow, at a small fraction of the speed that it should. Solutions:

A. Delete any unneeded items to free space on your hard drive.
B. Run a defragmentation of your hard drive, and that may improve the speed of your system
C. Save all of your files, then install a larger hard drive.

Hard drives also fail regularly, which means that if your documents and photos are not regularly backed up, you may be in deep trouble.

4. Emails.
A. You may have thousands of emails in your inbox and other folders. Delete anything you don’t need.
B. Establish folders in your email program to sort and save emails into categories; such as by family, geographic area, or other logical topics.

5. CLOUD BACK-UP – Back up your files by using online cloud storage, such as Box, Dropbox, or other firms. My website list shows a number of firms that provide online storage, some for free, some for pay. Use these to back up crucial files. You can access these anywhere you have internet access. You can also allow relatives to access the site to upload and download files.

You may want to set such online storage so it does NOT automatically update or synchronize the files on your computer with the files that you or family members or others who have access to the files stored there. The reason for this is that you want your antivirus software to download the latest updates BEFORE you import new files into your computer. Only AFTER your computer has retrieved antivirus updates, web browser updates, and operating system updates do you connect to websites, check email, or download files. However, you can set it to automatically update the files. But if a virus or other malware gets into the online storage, it can also infect your computer.

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