You’re at home and you’ve connected to your work computer remotely. You know your computer at work is protected. It’s behind a network is well protected with secure credentials.
BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR HOME COMPUTER?
Most people never think too much about the protection on their own personal computers. Windows 10 and MacOS have pretty good basic protection against malware.
BUT!!! Now you are using your home computer all day long to connect to your secure office computer. Are the default built in protections enough?
The answer is YES – as long as you follow some simple rules.
Make sure you have a strong password on your home computer
A login password is not just for logging in to your computer. The operating system uses that password for multiple things in the background. One of the most important is for installing programs. On a Mac, when you try to install any program you are asked to enter your login password. This stops unwanted or unexpected program installation. However, in Windows, the default login is used if the current user is an administrator, which is the default for the first account on the computer. AND, when the computer is turned on and logged off, it’s possible for programs to install in the background – as long as they have the credentials. If your home login has a simple password, most malware programs can hack in. If you don’t have a password or your computer is set to auto-login, it’s even easier.
Once installed, malware can run in the background and do nasty things from track all your keystrokes (allowing it to learn all your usernames and passwords) to encrypting all your data and asking you to pay a ransom to recover your info. Keystroke loggers can also learn how to connect to your office and then infect computers there.
Using a complex password makes it harder for malware to install and protects all your home and work information.
Turn on your computer firewall
A computer firewall examines all the traffic going in and out of your computer and decides if it can pass. By turning on the firewall, unwanted access to your computer can be blocked. There are literally millions of computers around the world automatically checking every public IP address for vulnerabilities. Once they find vulnerability they can deposit malware that will launch, maybe immediately or in the future, and expose you to all the nasty things malware does.
While office networks typically have a firewall to protect them, home networks don’t. (Home network routers can have some basic firewall features, but they are not very strong – they need to allow network traffic for such things as your streaming devices, VoIP phones, surveillance cameras and video games – so they tend to leave the home network exposed. Windows and Mac computers have strong firewalls built in, but they must be turned on.
Install Good Anti-Malware software
Windows has Windows Defender built in and the Mac has nothing by default. While Macs are attacked a very small percentage of Windows PCs, both need strong anti-malware. Anti-malware software uses a number of different methods – many at the same time – to examine every file that comes in or out of the computer. It looks for little bits of compute code attached the programs that can later run and install malware.
Good anti-malware software can detect almost every type of malware around, including ransomware. These programs also update themselves with the latest definitions to make sure that newly designed malware is caught before your computer can be infected.
By taking a few simple steps you can protect you home computers, protecting both your own information and your work computers.