1. Use Strong Passwords
It’s important for passwords to be complex. Too many people use common passwords and hackers know this and leverage this fact during an attack.
A simple way to make passwords complex is to base them off of a favorite phrase, song, or line from a book. Replace letters with numbers and special characters to mix things up.
Make unique passwords for each account you use. Many hackers find success when levering password reuse. Entire domains have been compromised because the admin used the same password on a poorly patched printer (yes, I said printer) the hacker was able to it as a breach entry point..
Most people probably have five or six complex passwords that are difficult to remember. Writing them down is a common practice, BUT, you should not, for instance, put them in a rolodex under “P” or in a file folder on your desk. Instead, they should be placed and guarded in a wallet or purse and protected like an ID or credit cards.
2. Don’t Use the Admin Account For Daily Use
When many people set-up their computer they do it using an administrator account. Administrator accounts have the power to create new users, install and uninstall software, and do other “power user” administrative tasks. They also have the capability to just about anything else on your computer, including things that a hacker would want to do.
As such, it’s important to set up regular user accounts and NOT use the administrator account as your daily driver, so to speak. That way, even if the system is compromised, it will give only limited capabilities to the hacker and typically prevent them from doing more nefarious acts.
3. Install Anti-Virus
Every computer on your network, including your servers, should have some type of anti-virus software running on it. While there are free versions of anti-virus software that some people use, I don’t typically recommend them. Often they have much more limited functionality, are not kept as up to date with new virus signatures, and also often involve the use of, yuck, promotional ads built into the software.
It cannot be stressed enough that the software must be kept up to date to ensure that it has signatures for the latest threats. Don’t just assume that because it is running, that it is updating…check it regularly to ensure that something hasn’t gone wrong.
4. Turn On Windows Firewall
Regardless as to whether or not you have a network firewall protecting you from Internet attacks, it is always a good idea to enable the firewall that comes built into most operating system, including Windows.
Why? Because even if you are behind a firewall, other systems on the network may become compromised and used as a launching pad for attacking other systems on the network. Having your firewall enabled lessens the likelihood that your workstations will fall prey to the attack as well.