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IT 08MAR2020

Information Technology update – 08 March 2020

Greetings members.

Welcome to this month’s Information Technology update. This month, we’ll be reviewing security for your devices.

Mobiles and tablets: If you own a mobile device, just like a computer, it’s important to install any updates your service provider or cell phone manufacturer have available. Most updates are quick and take just a few minutes. Those quick updates are usually to improve the security of your device and prevent unwanted access or use. Mobile apps are sometimes the easiest way to get bad programs into your device. Android users should only download from the Google Play Store and avoid 3rd party sites when possible. Apple users can only download apps from the Apple App store.

PC’s: Most PC’s are set by default to automatically download and install critical updates. Windows 10 users should get those updates as soon as they become available. If you’re running Windows 8, the expected end of life for support is January 2023. All older versions of Windows, from version 7 and under, have already passed the end of life date. That does not mean your computer will no longer function, it will. However, Microsoft will no longer create security or software patches, meaning your computer is more susceptible to getting a virus or malware installed. Mac-OS and Linux users should check with your specific software to see how updates are made available.

What is a computer virus? – Well, simply put, a computer virus is a program and starts impacting files in your computer. Some are minor and cause a minimal impact. Others can permanently corrupt your files and data and force a complete reimaging of your computer.

What is malware? – Malware is like a computer virus but can be much worse. Malware is a program that can run in the background of your computer, most times unnoticeable to the user. Malware programs can capture passwords, credit card data and other personal information and pass it along to someone else. The most extreme type of malware is ransomware. This was on the news last year when the Baltimore City government was hit. Computers were frozen, data locked. And if the users don’t pay, they don’t get the files back. Ransomware attacks usually do not affect personal users, they generally attack large corporations or government agencies.

How can I protect myself? – Any virus scan software will help prevent unwanted data from entering your computer. Some are free. Others have a yearly fee, such as MacAfee and Norton Antivirus. Another free program that’s easy to use is Spy-Bot Search and Destroy. It will scan your entire computer and remove anything it thinks could problematic. Just a note: It will always find something. Not everything it finds is a major issue, but it will clean your computer.

Backup!!! – Backups are great when you do have a total crash of any kind. Either use portable media locally, or cloud storage to save important files.

If you have any questions, stop by and see our IT officer at the meeting.

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