Q: What’s the one best way to protect my computer?
Recently at a PurleyDinnerClub gathering I was asked a seemingly simple question: What’s the one best way to protect my computer? In thinking through the usual stock responses I came to a conclusion which typifies the intent of this blog and so I thought it appropriate to share here…
Then my mind went to firewalls, that if you control what goes in and out of your computer you’ll identify and block trouble before it takes hold. However to do this properly takes a lot of effort and can get quite technical. You would need to understand communication ports, and you should whitelist websites and block access to anything that you aren’t aware. Even this has flaws; legitimate websites are compromised all the time so if you allow content from a handful of websites you still can’t be sure that your trust is well placed. Clearly the effort to maintain anything more than a basic firewall is more than most people would undertake.
Having quickly exhausted all of the typical suggestions with reasons as to why they should not be relied upon as a panacea my thinking moved on to the common factor; the human element. As advanced as our computers have become they are in effect still dumb machines, they do only what they are told (granted it’s not always you doing the telling but that’s another story). So if I had to give one piece of advice to protect your computer I’d say this; Be Aware.
Granted this might not help if you’re being targeted but if that’s the case then all of the advice above could be circumvented if the attacker is motivated enough. It also might not help if a legitimate website has been hacked and compromised. In both instances though being cautious and paying attention to the little things are likely to help you spot tell tale signs which could keep you out of trouble.