The most important part of your computer setup is YOUR DATA and not the hardware. You can replace the hardware but you often cannot replace the data.
ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B
And don't put all your 'eggs in one basket'
There are a number of ways that you can help yourself and ensure as smooth an operation as possible :-
- If you use Microsoft Windows then keep it up to date and do not use old versions. You should no longer be using Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 or 8.1 in a commercial environment.
- Maintain a proper backup system and keep your backups off site.
- Clear out old files and run the occasional 'defrag' on your hard disk.
- If you experience problems then don't ignore them. In particular, anything relating to data corruption is worrying and should be examined promptly.
- Always use some form of anti-virus software. Many are free. In a commercial environment you need a paid one (but free is better than none at all).
- Scan your system periodically using a program like Malwarebytes to dig deeper into the contents. Be safe and not sorry.
- Never open email attachments unless you are 100% sure of the originator. Do they have a digital security certificate?
- Be careful with web browsing and act responsibly.
- Be careful with passwords and never tell other people what they are.
- Consider buying an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for use on your computer and router.
- Never put confidential information in a place that someone might be able to access. Always encrypt your data if there is the possibility of access.
- It's too late after the event. Have a proper written policy for the worst scenario.
- Are you aware of the worse case scenario?
- If you rely on an online web presence then what happens if it goes down? Do you have an offline alternative or do you have all your 'eggs in one basket'?
- If your system crashes then you need to know why.
A crash can happen to anyone
Here it's on public display at Dublin Airport
Looks like they are running Windows 2000 still!
Things to make you think :-
- Online banking crashes - putting customers offline and costing millions.
- London Airport computer glitches - causing plane flight delays and costing millions.
- Amazon wrongly selling items at 1p - causing problems for suppliers and potentially causing them serious financial damage.
- Ashley Madison website. Millions of people having their personal data up for grabs.
- Mumsnet website hacked. Personal data removed.
- Carphone Warehouse hacked. Personal data removed.
- Sony hacked. Personal data removed.
- TalkTalk hacked. Personal data accessed. October 2015 (Fined £400,000 for this by Ofcom)
- BBC website hit with Denial of Service attack. Website out of action. January 2016
- HSBC problems with customers logging-in. Overloaded system. January 2016
- National Lottery site swamped by users making it inaccessible. 6th January 2016
- Lincolnshire County Council. Ransom attack. January 2016
- Panama offshore company data leaked to the world - April 2016
- 1 & 1 web space provider accidentally deleting a large amount of active websites - April 2016
- LinkedIn login details stolen in 2012 now being circulated and used - May 2016
- Sage with potential security breach - August 2016
- Yahoo security breach with account details stolen - September 2016
- Tesco Bank with up to 40,000 accounts raided - November 2016
- Wanna ransomeware affecting 200,000 users - May 2017
- British Airways - total system failure due to power issues (?) - 26th/27th/28th May 2017
- Wannacry ransomeware - companies held to ransom - June 2017
- Petya virus - destroying data all around the world - June 2017
- Spectre and Meltdown CPU bug - Jan 2018
- National Lottery - asking 10.5 million users to change passwords due to usernames/passwords being stolen from another undisclosed website - Mar 2018
These are the tip of the iceberg. Most of these organisations have huge budgets for I.T. and the logic must be that if they are getting it wrong then you can as well. Where are the fallback systems? How can British Airways be down for three days due to a 'power failure'?
Consider this, if you let confidential information out which concerns your customers then you may be committing an act that is punishable by a fine from the Information Commissioner. It is cheaper to get it right in the first place. If you store your customer and invoicing data online and you get hacked then you are fully responsible for its confidentiality. A failure to maintain this information confidential could be very costly to yourself even if the data is being stored on a third party system. GDPR is looming and non-compliance is potentially bad for your finances.
To protect yourself to a high level on a Windows platform we recommend the use of :-
Windows 10 Professional Edition
Kaspersky Internet Security 2018
MalwareBytes Premium Edition
Belarc Advisor (to tell you what is out of date and missing)