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Just how secure is secure?

Mention security these days and the response you will probably get is things take longer (getting through an airport for example). Everyone hates it but like it or not it has become part of our daily lives. But how secure can you actually make something?

This is the question I was asked by a client last week.  We were talking about possible upgrades to their network along with checking the measures they already had in place.  I did the usual – check password strength, permissions on the server, antivirus, firewalls etc and as is the norm they wanted security but not the hassle it brings.  “We need things to just work and not worry about these security things” to which I replied “You can have security or connivence but rarely can you have both”.

Lets start with good practice. Don’t use easy passwords and don’t write them on posit notes stuck to the PC either!!!! Use one vendor for antivirus on all the systems as this allows easier troubleshooting if something happens. I did read an article yesterday suggesting you use two as any holes found in one product is unlikely to be in the second.  I can understand this logic to a point but this makes troubleshooting a lot more difficult.  I try to explain to clients they are better to standardise their software across all their PC’s for this reason.  Finally only give users the permission they need not what they want.

Now onto Firewalls.  A good firewall will stop attackers getting onto your network in the first place (or at the very least telling you someone is trying) and there are endless vendors like SonicWall or Cisco who supply excellent products.  The problem is the cost, or more accurately the perception of cost. Most of the clients I deal with are small home businesses who can’t justify the cost of installing a third party firewall and instead rely on the BT Home HuB (or similar).  These type of routers contain a basic firewall which is robust for the most part (you can configure ssh access for example) but don’t have the feature set of the more expensive models from the likes of Cisco.

The biggest problem with security though is us.  Humans are well known for always being the weakest link in IT.  If we see security as getting in the way then we get annoyed and turn it off.  My antivirus is slowing down emails coming in – turn it off.  You want me to remember how many passwords – don’t think so!! You get the picture!!

So back to the the original question – how secure is secure? The answer is nothing is ever gong to be 100% secure (especially with humans involved) but we can get close.  The problem is where do you draw the line with regards to security affecting users ability to do their job?  Too much security and nothing gets done while too little and you will get serious issues.

I will leave answering that question upto you.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Cisco, Windows, OS X and Linux based IT Support to small businesses throughout Scotland.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

Is antivirus getting too bloated?


Antivirus software is essential – fact.  Whether it be a home system or a business one you still face the same threats.  There are loads of software on the market to choose from but one thing I have noticed recently is that most offer ‘other’ services besides antivirus protection.  A lot of them are no longer antivirus software but call themselves ‘Internet Security Suites’ instead.  Lets take AVG Anti-virus 2013 as an example.  Some of the features are:

  • Surf and search with confidence
  • Keep tough threats out
  • Stay protected on social networks
  • Download, share files and chat safely
  • Support and assistance
  • Play games and watch movies without interruption
  • Scan smarter and faster

Sounds impressive but what exactly is ‘Stay Protected on social networks’?  It won’t stop people from slurring you or writing things you don’t want people to know about.  What is Play games and watch movies without interruption all about? Does it increase the speed of the internet connection now?

Some suites offer the facility to backup your files to cloud storage and beefier firewalls. Features like these are not really required on a standard PC.  In a business environment there will usually be a network firewall keeping everyone safe who is behind it.  Why do you need another one on your system which, in my experience, can cause problems.  I had a business laptop once which couldn’t connect to a wifi printer because Norton’s firewall kept blocking the connection.  On a home system Windows comes with a good firewall as standard (except XP) so why change it.

As for cloud storage yes it is handy but call me old fashioned but I want my antivirus to concentrate on one thing and that is to stop virus before they hit my system.  If I want cloud storage I will get some.

All these extra features have one big drawback – computing resources.  Have you tried to run any recent Internet Security Suite on a desktop with 1 GB RAM (a lot of home users and businesses with tight budgets still have these).  The system crawls and it is very hard to actually do work so it defeats the purpose of actually having the software in the first place.

So what do you think is antivirus getting too bloated?

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

 

How to set up a basic Web Server on Ubuntu 12.04


This tutorial will show you how to set up a basic web server. For this tutorial I have used Ubuntu 12.04 LTS but the steps work the same on any Linux distribution.

Ok first thing to do is give your server a static ip address.  This tutorial will show you how.  Once done it is time to download the software you will need so open up a terminal and install the following packages:

apache2 php5-mysql libapache2-mod-php5 mysql-server

During the install process MySQL will ask you for a root password.  Make this something complex but do not forget it!!!

Once installed open up a web browser and type http://your-server-address (e.g http://192.168.1.3) and you will see the message IT WORKS! This means that you have a working web server.

Now it is time to add some content to your server.  All apache servers store their web data at /var/www but as default you can not write to this folder.  Open up a terminal and type:

sudo nautilus

Enter your password when prompted.  Navigate to /var and right click on www.  Then go to properties.  Add yourself as either the owner or group and give yourself “create and delete files folder access“.

Next thing to do is to download some ftp software.  Personally I recommend Filezilla. Open up a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install filezilla

Once installed connect to your existing web server and transfer your files into /var/www.

Congratulations!! Your website is now hosted on your new server but it will not yet be visible from the internet.  Most networks sit behind a router which acts as a firewall, so to make your website visible you will need to forward http packets from your router to your server by opening up port 80 and redirecting it to your servers new ip address. Portforward.com is a good starting point to understand port forwarding.

You will also need to speak to your ISP about getting a static ip address for your router. Without this you will not be able to access your site everytime your ip address changes.

And that is it!! You now have a basic web server from which to host your own website.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in and around Stirling.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more.

CyberChimps
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