Annual technology review checklist

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It’s a new year filled with new possibilities.  Including new viruses, hackers and other risks to your computers and your entire network infrastructure.  There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself on a regular basis and many things we take for granted as we setup once and forget it.

This is your reminder to have a look at everything and update your notes.  Some you may be comfortable doing yourself.  Others you may want to have your computer tech do it for you.  It’s important to have everything documented incase of an emergency or major disaster.  And in cases where you have requirements for compliance testing for various vendors like if you accept credit cards (which everyone does), or you are in a business that handles confidential information such as doctors & lawyers.  Any business maybe required to go through compliance testing which can be very tedious, but it’s good practice to know your data and your clients information is safe.  I’m sure you’re clients would like to know you take special care in protecting their information on your network.

Please note this is not a step by step how to procedure.  If you do not know what the items mean or how to do these things, you may find other detailed articles or you can hire an IT Company to help with this.

Top 10 tasks for your annual I.T. Review

  1. Check your router settings
    1. If you use Wireless – make sure it’s secure using latest wireless encryption methods.  Such as WPA-PSK or WPA-PSK2.  You should not be using WEP anymore.  It’s easily hacked.
    2. Console login information.  Ensure you have a password to get into it in the first place, and change it annually for added security.
    3. Wifi login information.  At the very least, change your password.  You may also want to change the name of the network for added security, and be sure to not use a personally identifiable name so neighbours or potential hackers can easily identify who you are.  If they want to hack into your network, you don’t want to help them figure out which network is yours.
    4. Unnecessarily open ports.  Depending on your router, many ports maybe open by default.  You can close them and only keep necessary ports open.  This is like securing your home by having less doors unlocked for someone to enter through.
  2. Virus protection
    1. Make sure it hasn’t expired
    2. Make sure it is still doing scheduled scans daily or at the very least weekly.
    3. Make sure it is up to date.  Not just virus definitions which should be updated daily automatically, but the program update which is updated annually and manually.
  3. Windows Updates (Apple’s Mac updates too)
    1. Mainly automatic, but it’s important to make sure anything automatic is happening as expected.
    2. If you have an Apple Mac product, don’t be ignorant.  They have updates too and need to be done to stay secure.  Apple has had many attacks lately, possibly someone is trying to prove my point I’ve been making for years.  Apple has vulnerabilities and viruses too.
  4. Software updates. Some should be automatic, some require manual updates.  Here’s a standard list with current versions as of the writing of this article.  Just to name a few.
    1. Adobe Reader 11.0.10 http://get.adobe.com/reader/
    2. Adobe Flash Player 16.0.0.235 http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/
    3. Java 8.25 http://www.java.com
    4. iTunes 12.0.1 http://www.itunes.com
    5. QuickTime 7.7.6 http://www.quicktime.com
    6. Firefox 34.0.5 https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/
  5. Ensure Drive space at least 20% Free space available.  This helps performance and avoids crashes.
  6. Ensure backup procedure is still adequate.  Backups should be monitored daily.
  7. Email passwords
    1. Change your passwords at least annually.  In addition to strong passwords, if they are changed regularly, they are almost impossible to hack.  By the time someone could figure out the password, you’ve changed it again.  (Same goes for points #8, 9 & 10 below).
  8. Website hosting Cpanel password – This is where your email and FTP passwords can be changed, so if this gets hacked, the others can be easily hacked.
  9. Website WordPress password (If applicable) – WordPress is popular to be hacked.
  10. All other online passwords for that matter (Especially high security websites like online banking)

This was just a few things from which you can probably think of a bunch of other tasks that you can add to the list.  for a professional review of your computers and network infrastructure, contact your local IT company and ask for a review of your network security.  Feel free to share this list with whoever you think can benefit from it, or who can help you go through it.

About Daniel Gauthier

work as a peace officer in various forms. Daniel wrote a book in 2009 called “Tech-Knowledgy” which got him on television and radio a few times. The concept behind the book was “to level the playing field between computer techs and non-techies so they don’t get take advantage of”. Daniel has a couple certifications including MCP and A+; he is preparing to write the Network+ exam and has studied CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) and CHFI (Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator). Daniel has run his own computer service business “TwinBytes” since 2004. He has done a few talks on cyber security and generally enjoys training, educating and helping others.