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A quick guide to securing your computer from WannaCry – for over 18s only

Ok, first off, I’m not an IT expert. I manage servers, websites and my own computers and have done so for over 20 years. These are the steps I took this morning, just for my own peace of mind. You should always consult an IT professional about your security.

That said, they might be busy right now, so here’s what I did this morning to do a check of all my systems and ensure we were reasonably protected.

Remember, there is no sure fire way to be safe at all times. All you can do is mitigate potential problems and have redundancy systems where possible.

Step 1: I turned off my router.

Before I booted up anything, I turned off my computer’s access to the internet. The easiest way to do that is to turn off the router at the source. No internet in, no internet access.

Step 2: Booted up and made sure all email programmes were put on offline mode and/or closed

The hack, WannaCry / Wanna Ransom / Wanna Defendor, appears to have been mostly delivered virus style through email. By closing down all email systems and putting them on to offline mode, I’m not allowing any emails in while I do the next few steps.

Step 3: Turn on the router again

Turning off the router and giving it a break is always a good thing, so after switching it back on and connecting my laptops and PCs to the internet, I can then carry on without worrying about emails coming in.

Step 4: Back ups

I am notorious for hoarding my data and backups. I not only have automatic back ups, I also have external hard drives that I manually back up to when I’m about to do something big. My manual back ups are stored on a separate hard drive that has a couple of TB of space. I just copy over my windows ‘profile’ folder. It takes a while, but it’s worth it. Automatic back ups are superb, but I like having extra redundancies.

You can find your profile folder by going to ‘My Documents’ and then selecting the parent folder. You should see a list of folders such as Pictures or My Pictures, Music or My music etc… You may only want to copy / back up the main folders you use.

Step 5: Updates gallore

Now we update everything. If you’re like me and have a long history of not trusting Windows updates, things have changed. In the past, updating your operating software ran a high chance of breaking everything. Once you’ve upgraded to Windows 10, the updates (touch wood) seem to be more reliable. Any how, you don’t get much choice in the matter. Turn away for too long and Windows will update itself and switch off if you don’t have your settings changed.

If you are on Windows 10, update. You can check for updates by clicking the Windows icon in the bottom left of your screen and typing ‘up’. The option ‘Check for updates’ should come up. I checked for updates, downloaded any updates (one of my back up laptops hadn’t already downloaded the latest one) and then on the Windows icon again, clicked the power button above the Windows icon and selected ‘Update and Restart’.

If you’re not on Windows 10 yet, here’s some information I wrote a while back when I updated to Windows 10.

My personal belief is that though it’s a headache, updating to the latest Windows 10 is a must. Speak to your IT professional about how to effectively update to Windows 10. It’s tricky. At the bottom of this article, I have listed some local Herts, Beds & Bucks IT companies that are nice people to deal with.

For the moment, I understand there are patches for non-supported Microsoft software available on the Microsoft website here. You can also visit PC World Magazine for their article on the patches. A word of warning. The first rule of cyber security is ‘don’t click the link’. Read below to find out why this is so important.

Once I’d updated Windows, I updated my Anti-Virus.

A quick word on anti-virus software

I’m going to be a little rude here, and I sincerely apologise. But people need to start taking this seriously and shock is the best way to make a point. Anti-virus software is the computer equivalent of condoms. Remember the old excuses people would give for why they wouldn’t use one? Remember how people used to buy cheap, crappy ones (that broke) from the toilet of their local pub or club and were less use than clingfilm? Right! Well if you’re using a free anti-virus software then you are playing Russian roulette in that same way.

I use a paid for anti-virus called Webroot. The idea behind Webroot is it not only protects you against incoming viruses, it also monitors your system for files that are behaving strangely. Because anti-virus software uses databases to track names and indicators in suspicious and malicious files they are only as good as their last update. The free versions usually update less regularly purposefully giving you less protection. Webroot not only has a similar database, it reportedly stops viruses even if they’re not on the known virus database.

Whatever software you use, pay for it. There’s some reviews of good ones here on PC World Magazine.

Step 6: Get cyber-security savvy

Ok. So here is the definitive rule of cyber security. Are you ready?

DON’T CLICK THE LINK!

 

Don’t click the link. Don’t open the file. Don’t open the email.

WannaCry was reportedly delivered via emails. Some of those emails were entitled ‘Invoice’. I had one. I didn’t know the company. I didn’t open the email. It was supposedly an unpaid invoice for a sofa. Like, seriously? I’ve also had emails from the police, reportedly with ‘evidence’ of speeding tickets.

If you really must open the email, and you don’t know the sender, use ‘Ctrl + U’ this will show you the source code of the email without opening it. Never click any links from emails.

In the same way that you wouldn’t open your door at night without checking who was the other side, do everything in your power not to let identity thieves, spammers, scammers and hackers get the better of you. Get some cyber security training. Do some reading.

Here are some useful links – feel free to copy and paste rather than click!

http://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/tackling_crime/cybercrime__online_safety.aspx Bedfordshire Police Cyber Crime

http://www.snopes.com/ Snopes is a great place to find out about all the latest scams and why they were created

http://hoax-slayer.com/ Again, anther good website for keeping up to date on scam emails

IT companies we like in Herts, Beds & Bucks

http://www.thecomputertechnician.co.uk/ – Ask for Martin Gaunt.

http://macrat.co.uk/ – Ask for Simon. He deals exclusively with Macs.

http://www.acnsolutions.co.uk/ – Ask for Andy.

For slightly larger businesses:

https://www.jamcrackers.co.uk/

http://www.ilessystems.co.uk/

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