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 IF THINGS GO WRONG - BECAUSE THEY WILL
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.
- 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.
- Never assume that if your systems are Cloud-based that they will never go down or be hacked.
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. (Fined £400,000 for this by Ofcom)
- BBC website hit with Denial of Service attack. Website out of action.
- HSBC problems with customers logging-in. Overloaded system.
- National Lottery site swamped by users making it inaccessible
- Lincolnshire County Council. Ransom attack
- Panama offshore company data leaked to the world
- 1 & 1 web space provider accidentally deleting a large amount of active websites
- LinkedIn login details stolen in 2012 now being circulated and used
- Sage with potential security breach
- Yahoo security breach with account details stolen
- Tesco Bank with up to 40,000 accounts raided
- Wanna ransomeware affecting 200,000 users
- British Airways - total system failure due to power issues (?)
- Wannacry ransomeware - companies held to ransom
- Petya virus - destroying data all around the world
- Spectre and Meltdown CPU bugs
- National Lottery - asking 10.5 million users to change passwords due to usernames/passwords being stolen from another undisclosed website
- Wordpress web sites compromised
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 your fallback systems?
To protect yourself to a high level on a Windows platform we recommend the use of :-
Windows 11 Professional Edition
Norton 360 2023
PatchMyPC or Belarc Advisor (to tell you what is out of date and missing)
Footnote : The systems provided by our ISP went down for 24 hours recently (affecting thousands of users) when a data centre failed. Two of our websites went down and our emails would not work. Fortunately our main systems are run on our own dedicated servers and deliberately 'cloned' across two sites. We had previously set up relaying of emails through Google, so we could still still send/receive them. We continued to operate normally.