What is Layered Security

Drawing of Castle
Wikipedia Public Domain

Earlier, I mentioned “layered security,” and felt it would be good to expand what I mean when I use that term.  Layered security, to me, means that you do not depend on one method of protecting your computer, laptop, or phone.

Often I have heard people say, “I have an antivirus program, so I am protected.” Well, yes you have protection, but an antivirus program is not a 100% guarantee that your computer will not get a virus. Why? Because it is a cat and mouse game when it comes to virus protection. Antivirus companies work hard to make better ways to stopping viruses,  but the problem is that there are people working hard to make better, sneakier, and stronger viruses.

Am I saying don’t get an antivirus program? No! Just don’t act like bulletproof when you read emails, downloading, and surfing the web. One of the first layers of security I recommend is being smart and on the defensive when using your computer. (More on this in another post. Also see my post on WOT – Web of Trust.) Note: MAC users, despite what you might thinks, MACs get viruses too! See http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/flashback_trojan_responsible_nearly_600000_mac_attacks_and_counting**

Another layer I always recommend is patching your software aka installing updates. While most of the newer OS (Operating System like Windows) have the auto update setting turned on, your other programs may not automatically update. So it is a good idea to check your software vendor’s website from time to time to see if there is an update for your program.

So now you have three layers of security, not just one protecting your computer. In the future I will share with you even more.

** Footnote: Don’t use more than one antivirus program. In other words, three antivirus programs are not better than one. Just like taking more than the prescribed medication can be bad for you, too many antivirus programs can be hazardous for your computer.

 

 

Recommended Article: How to Set Up A PC

Rather than rewrite or rehash a perfectly good article, I suggest the following article from Maximum PC. It show you how to clean up a brand new computer and then configure it they way you want it. It is a lot cheaper than paying someone else to do it.

Logo for Maximum PC

How to Set Up a PC

 Posted 07/08/2013 at 5:45pm | by Gordon Mah Ung and David Murphy

Web of Trust

Another web application I like it W.O.T. (aka Web of Trust) – http://www.mywot.com/

This web application is installed as an add on to your web browser. What is does it helps you evaluate the trustworthiness of a site or url. This is indicated by a circle located by an URL link for example in Facebook or a Google search, and in the upper right hand corner of your web browser.image of a google  The circle will be either a gray (no ranking), red (poor ranking), yellow (caution ranking), and green (high ranking). Naturally, you want to stay away from any site with a red circle, and you should feel relatively safe with any site with a green circle.

As you can see, the right hand image shows this website with a yellow ranking. How did this site get a yellow ranking? The way the ranking works, is that visitors who have a WOT account can rank a site in the following areas: Trustworthiness,  Vendor Reliability, Privacy, and Child Protection.

Currently I show yellow in the first three categories. Users who visited the older version of this website had negative experiences because of a WordPress add on called Buddy Press. I failed to keep that portion of the website adequately updated and my site was hacked and misused. Hence I earned that rating through my mistakes.

So why am I putting up on a post on a product that actually steers people away from my website? No, it is not to get WOT to raise my score. It is because the application did what it was suppose to do. Based on my poor rating, it told people my website was suspect, reducing the number of people who could have been harmed by those who hacked my site.

For those of you who are asking is my site safe now, it is as safe as I can make it. I erased everything from the old version of the website and did not re-install buddypress because of my failure to properly maintain the program, not because anything the makers of the add-on did or didn’t do. I also have do not collect information on any visitor to the site.  I have never shared information from this site with anyone. 

…as far as my WOT score turning green, that is up to you. As WOT says to website owners, trust is earned. I hope I earn your trust….

 

 

Suspicious URLS’s and Files?

One of my new tools in my layered security blanket is a site called virsustotal. What is great about virus_totalthis website is that you can take a link in an email, copy and paste it into the search field and then scan it without harming your computer. (Note: you have to click on the scan URL link below the scan button to switch from the default scan file mode.)

The other plus is you can download a file from a website, and have it scanned by not one many different antivirus vendors.

virus_total_2It should be noted that this website application does not “guarantee” that the program you download is not a virus, worm, trojan, or malware. In fact no antivirus program can provide 100% protection, but it does provide another layer of security.