Prepping The PC

16 Jun

One topic I omitted from The Prepper Next Door was the topic of PC security. The subject was just too far away from what readers might expect in a book about prepping. In the modern world, being prepared means you’re alert to the risk your PC faces and you have at least some idea of how to handle these risks.

It’s been estimated that Iran’s nuclear program has been set back by 6 months to 1 year because of the Stuxnet worm and the Flame virus. We know Stuxnet was created by the U.S. government. The cyber-weapon interfered with the operation of 1,000 nuclear centrifuges. Because Stuxnet ran a bit out-of-control, it was discovered by computer security experts, who reverse engineered the worm. Flame, also courtesy of the US government, was a virus masquerading as a windows update.

If the NSA wants to infiltrate your computer and snoop on you, they’ll probably do so. There isn’t much we can do if hundreds of top programmers attack one of our computers. We can defend our PCs from lesser threats though. Hackers now have much of the code for Stuxnet and Flame and could re-purpose it to attack industrial targets. Windows has patched some of the vulnerabilities. Here’s what we should do to protect our PCs from hackers:

► Regularly update our operating system.
► Run antivirus software on our PC
► Run firewall software on our PC
► Run anti-spyware software regularly
(One popular free anti-spyware programs are MalwareBytes, http://www.malwarebytes.org)
► Regularly backup important files so if our system were damaged, we could restore them. Norton Ghost is one popular program for copying a hard drive or backing up a PC.

All PC users should devote a little time to learning more about basic computer security. While this cyber-weapon did more or less what was intended, using such weapons sets a dangerous precedence. What happens if one of these cyber-weapons runs amuck and attacks a non-targeted country? How would Russia or China respond if the US inadvertently damaged a billion dollars worth of their infrastructure? You can be sure we’d need to pay the bill or face retaliation. The careless use of cyber-weapons attacking industrial targets could inadvertently lead to a shooting war.

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