The Do’s and Don’ts of Basic Internet and Network Security

How certain are you that no untrustworthy individuals or unauthorized activities can access your network? Are your network files safe? Do you have some security protection (software and hardware) to keep your vital documents safe in your computer? How important is it for you to guard all your Credit Card, Bank Account and other critical information stored in your computer?  Is your network secured with the highest encryption? Did you know that your network can be vulnerable from any unseen threats?

The Do’s:

1.  If you can afford to buy a Security Device (in addition to your router’s security features) like Sonicwall which is designed for small to large business use, it’s worth every penny and will protect your investments.  Sonicwall Appliance has advanced Content filtering  that will block unwanted ports, programs and sites,  fully configurable and advanced firewall or application firewall.  In addition, IPS protection, anti-virus, anti-spyware and mac address spoofing are great features of the Sonicwall Device.

Otherwise you may also block unwanted sites and ports from your router settings. The images that you will see in this Article are coming from a DLink Router. If you are using a different router other than D-Link,  the settings will have similar features.

 
 
 

2.   Protect your computer by using an Anti-Virus/Anti-Spyware Software and make sure that the update is set to automatic update.  There are a few free software that you may try such as Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast, AVG Free or check on line for a lot more options. Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware are also Free and both an excellent Anti Malware and Anti Spyware protection.  Comodo and PCTools Firewall Plus are both great and Free Firewall software protection. If you want a paid solution I would recommend Eset Smart Security 5.

3.   Use  web browsing protection,  you may try programs like WOT (Web of Trust) and Browser Defender. Also,  you may try Rapport for preventing phishing, connections to fake websites and to protect your passwords.

4.  Use an adblocker program to block intrusive ads which can contain malicious scripts such as clickjacks or trojans containing a viral payload.  There are free programs that you may try such as Simple Adblock IE or Adblock plus for Firefox.

5.   If you do not use a third party firewall,  make sure that your computer’s built-in firewall and Windows Updates are enabled and verify that your computer stays current with all Windows Updates and Patches. You may enable both features from Control Panel\System and Security.

 

6.   Use WPA2 Network Security for your wireless network, if you are using a wired network and don’t have any broadband connections, there’s no need to worry about securing your network. Both WEP and WPA have been hacked, if you have an old wireless router that doesn’t support WPA2, you should consider replacing it since routers now have become very affordable.

 
 
 
7.  Enable Guest Zone in your router if your router supports this feature. You will be creating a separate SSID for your Guests and it is safer this way.
 
 
 
 
 8.  Install Secunia (PSI) – Having vulnerable and outdated programs installed in your computer is not a good practice.  Secunia helps keep track of these programs such as End of Life, Insecure and Patched programs.
 
 

9.   Encrypt your Files or/and Drives.  Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 7 Ultimate, and  all editions of Windows Server 2008 R2 comes with Bitlocker . You may access Bitlocker from Control Panel\System and Security\BitLocker Drive Encryption.

 
 
10.   Password protect your files.  Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Outlook) has a built-in tool to password protect each document and worksheet. How much information do you have stored in your Outlook, important emails, calendar, tasks, etc.  I have my own Article on how to password protect Outlook. http://www.techsupportforum.com/3599-how-to-password-protect-outlook-pst/
 
11.   Use complex passwords for routers and website authentication.  It’s a good practice to mix letters, numbers and symbols by using both uppercase and lowercase for letters.

The Don’ts:

1.     Don’t use simple passwords for your router’s Login or websites such as 1234 or 4321, 9999 or peoples names or date of birth.  Don’t use the router’s default Password,  this needs to be changed  immediately when you first setup your router.

2.     Avoid using the most dangerous keyword searching. http://us.mcafee.com/en-us/local/docs/most_dangerous_searchterm_us.pdf

3.      Avoid opening up email attachment from anyone that you don’t know. Do not open any .exe files. Be careful with scam and phishing email, it is best to delete any emails that look suspicious.
 
4.     Don’t disable the security features on your security devices or software.

5.     Don’t use the autocomplete feature in your web browser, this will remember your passwords entered.  It is convenient,  but security wise it’s not safe.

6.      Avoid using any P2P programs such as utorrent, Frostwire , Bittorrent etc…

7.      Do not enable DMZ Host in your Router, this will bypass the port-forwarding,  therefore it is very risky and be cautious and know the security risks in case that you have no option but enable this feature.

8.     Do not enable Remote Management in your Router; this can be easily enabled if  you need it.

 
 
  9.   Do not disable the password protection in your Cell Phone. Cell phones must be password protected because they can easily be stolen, lost or misplaced.  If you have a Microsoft Outlook synching on your phone, imagine all the critical information stored in your cell phones. If this is a business cell phone, inform your IT Dept right away because there’s a way to remotely wipe out all the data in your phone.
 

Now that you have read all the Do’s and Dont’s of Basic Internet and Security, and are aware of all the security threats and facts, it is best to practice all of the security measures.

Please take some time to read the documentation that came with your security device and Internet security software.

If you are in a network environment that utilizes the internet all day long or for a longer period of time, make sure that your router has some very strong security features, replace it and buy a new one if it’s too old. Something that you might want to consider doing is purchasing an additional security protection like Sonicwall Security hardware appliance especially if you are a business owner, rest assured that your network will be protected and not vulnerable to outside threats.

***A special ‘Thanks’ to Paul Campbell for his guidance and contribution  in completing this Article.***

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What’s The Best Router?

Selecting the right router and what’s best suited for your network can be difficult. Depending on what type of Broadband connection you have, one can behave differently than others.
I hear this all the time and I have been asked the same question – ‘What’s the Best Router for me’?

I just purchased and setup a new D-Link N Router that replaced our old Linksys G Router because it was acting up. It took me a little while to buy because of researching. I have Charter Communications (Internet Service Provider) and I found out that Charter Customers have luck using either Linksys or D-Link. I went to different Forums and Blogs to find out what other Consumers have to say regarding the Pros and Cons of a variety of routers, so this is one thing that you may consider doing. My new D-Link router is performing great and so far so good.
How complex is your wireless network environment? One thing that you need to know before buying – find out how many wireless devices do you have. These devices will vary from a Laptop, IPod, Tablets, Smart phones, Xbox, PS3, etc. If a family member will be doing any HD video streaming, you might consider a Dual Band N Router, this can operate on both the 2.4 GHz and 5GHz radio bands simultaneously, and double the available wireless bandwidth. A router that has this option provides load balancing. For instance, you could set up your network to handle video streaming on one radio band, and use the other band for simultaneous other web activities (Instant messaging, Surfing, data uploading/downloading) avoiding any interference or collisions.

Routers have different types of Standards known as Standard 11n (N) that supports 5GHz band or Standard 11b and g (B/G) that supports 5GHz band technology? B/G is an older technology and nowadays N technology would be more doable, they are backwards compatible to B/G and will communicate to any B/G wireless devices. In order to make use of the highest router mode (N), your wireless devices will have to be an N technology as well. However, your B/G wireless devices will only communicate at the lowest Mode of your router which is the B/G. The higher the Standards you use, the performance is more acceptable and reliable.

How large is your home and how many rooms do you have? You might want to consider an Access Point (AP), a router with Bridging or Repeating functionality. Make sure to read the technical details of the router to ensure that the router that you will be buying has this option. The AP, Bridge or Repeater Router is designed for users looking to create a wireless network or to connect multiple wired devices to an existing wireless network. Expand your wireless network endlessly to cover large areas and improve performance.

Don’t forget the Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPV6) compatibility – most of the newer routers should have this feature ready so that each IPV6 device in your network will comply with your router when it becomes effective. Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPV4) will be obsolete, so any IPV4 devices won’t be able to communicate with your router.
The wireless security feature of the router is also significant and plays a big role in your wireless network. Make sure that it supports WPA2 which is the highest network encryption, WEP and WPA security have both been hacked and not too secured.

Other things to consider:
Will you need gigabit ports? Some routers have gigabit ethernet ports for faster transfer rate, your wired network devices must have gigabit network adapters to make use of the gigabit ports.

A Cloud feature will be great to have – Netgear has a ‘Ready Share Cloud‘ or ReadySHARE(R) USB Storage Access for file sharing. You’re not just getting a wireless router but a Cloud solution as well, all in one great package. You may also make use of the USB Port to share any USB devices from your network.
Parental Control – to restrict browsing on illegal sites for minor ages of the family members.

FTP – to upload, download and share network files.

Hotspot – to set up your network as Hotspot, most commonly use for Cafe.

Guest Zone – you may create a separate SSID (wireless network name) for your Guests.
These are just a few great features that you might consider before buying your next router. Now, you decide and find out what’s the best router for you.

Microsoft’s Office 365 vs Google Apps Cloud Solutions

There’s a battle going on between two great Cloud Solutions – Microsoft Office 365 vs Google Apps. Which side will you choose?
 
If you have a Home or Small Business with less than 25 employees, there’s no need to invest on a Server, additional Computers , Hardware and Software. All you need is a working Broadband connection and a computer to access the internet. Remotely access and work on your files, programs, software anytime and anywhere. A very minimal and basic IT support  is needed, there’s no need to outsource a professional IT Consultant.
 
Two Versatile IT Cloud Solutions that are now available:
 
 
As low as $6 per User per month which is not too bad at all.  The package comes with Email (with anti-spam filtering), web-based Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote  and Lync.
 
 
Google Apps includes a Free Solution (google documents, hosted email, spreadsheet and presentation) for up to 10 Users with Free Website and Email. Upgrade to the Business solution and you will get a lot more out of it including synchronization of emails to your Smart Phones (Android, IPhone and Blackberry).
 
Now, it’s all up to you which one would work better. Will it be the most affordable one but with less attributes? Perhaps spend a little more but you’ll get a lot more goodies.