The Importance of Keeping a Clean Machine

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Keeping a clean computer means you are keeping yourself more protected from computer viruses as you use the internet.  With Cybersecurity Awareness month well under way, think of this week’s article as a prevention checklist to help familiarize yourself with what it means to truly keep a clean machine!

  1. Keep your security software up to date: Having a virus scanner is good but it won’t protect you if the virus definitions are out of date and cannot detect the latest virus/malware and other threats.
  2. Automatic Updates: Windows and Mac OS machines have automatic updates that patch vulnerable security flaws. It’s a good idea to check that the feature is turned on so you are protected.
  3. Protect other connected devices: Aside from your computer, make sure your smartphones, game systems, and other smart/web-enabled device are also properly shielded. A compromised email account or credentials from any of these devices can leave you vulnerable.
    Just last month, a popular information security site was attacked by the largest distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks the internet has ever seen (KrebsOnSecurity). The investigation led the company to believe that the, “attack was launched with the help of a botnet that had enslaved a large number of hacked so-called “Internet of Things,” (IoT) devices. Those devices include routers, IP cameras and digital video recorders (DVRs) that are exposed to the Internet and protected with weak or hard-coded passwords” (KrebsonSecurity). Attackers are always looking for an easy foothold in.
  4. Beware of mobile apps: There are many apps out there that are free but they can transmit information about you, your location, contacts, and other information.  Some apps are malicious in nature with similar names to the one you mean to download.
    These apps can monitor your device, take screenshots, turn on the camera or microphone, and even create a backdoor for attackers so think before you download that app.  It’s also a good practice to remove old apps that you do not use as well as keep all other apps up to date.
  5. Stranger-USB Danger:  Free/found USB drives can be a Trojan horse as they can contain malware used to inject malicious code directly into your device.  Be careful of everything you plug into your devices as that free USB drive can contain malware and can infect your device.  
  6. Travel Smart: Beware of “juice-jacking”:  Sweet, juicy energy stations at airports may be tempting when you’re low on battery but remember, they can also access your phone, transfer/steal your data without your consent or attempt to install backdoors/malicious apps.  Don’t trust public charging kiosks, use your own charger.  If you must, use a USB data port blocker or power-only USB cable to only allow charging.

Another way to help keep your machine and files safe is by utilizing our Dropbox Pro offer! For the entire month of October, Dropbox is offering a 30% discount on Dropbox Pro for personal accounts. Dropbox Pro offers 1TB of space (vs. 2GB with free accounts), and advanced security features (remote wipe on devices, password-protection and expiration on links). Click here for more information on the Dropbox Pro offer: