As another Academy team member discovers they have been hacked and have an unknown router connected to their network, we wonder what safeguards we should be taking to prevent it from happening to us. Sadly, you can’t prevent it, but there are some things you can do to make it more difficult on the hacker.
I am a firm believer in Windows Defender for Anti-Virus in Windows 8/10. The employee in question should not be running Windows 7 as that is a free upgrade to Windows 10. There is no need to buy any 3rd party Anti-Virus software when one of the top rated is already free. This is for stand-alone PCs and Peer-to-Peer networks. IT Professionals address anti-virus needs on a network wide basis for server based networks.
Have a good Malware program such as Malwarebytes (free).
Data in transit (moving) is encrypted and extremely safe. You probably do some banking or shopping online and that has the same encryption you would use if you were connected to your home network. When the data stops moving it becomes vulnerable because the encryption is gone. MS-Windows comes with a firewall, make sure it is turned on. Your router, if you have one, has a firewall, make sure it is also turned on.
In the name of making computers easy for the operator, at the push of a button you can store your name, address, phone number, login, password, bank site, bank account number, bank login and password, etc., in short putting you, and everything about you, in a single place just waiting for “when” not “if” you will be hacked. And the more you save, the more valuable it is to the seller. Hackers don’t use your information; they sell it to the highest bidder.
Lastly, watch your browser choice. While Google Chrome may be the fastest browser in the world, it achieves that speed by saving web pages in RAM (it never rewrites a page as that takes too long). Every page you visit is stored in RAM and if you were banking, there may be a whole lot of information just setting in RAM. If you are shopping do you want a hacker to know your shoe size? Not only are you making yourself vulnerable, you are using system resources (RAM) making the computer run slower. REBOOT your computer at least daily to clear all of these web pages. If you only have 4 GB of RAM reboot at noon time as well. If you have done some heavy duty banking and/or shopping, reboot your computer to clear all of the history. When you reboot you will change the DNS (your physical internet address), at least in United States, minimizing what a hacker can do with your DNS.
You can minimize your exposure and vulnerability with the above actions, and they are all free!
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555