Securing the Notary’s PC
First, a disclaimer. What follows is not all inclusive of the protections that I utilize, some, for obvious reasons will not be disclosed. I will cover some basic defenses. The first is the concept of a firewall. I use two. The first is the one in my router. It is configured to allow some, but not all traffic to enter or leave. Specific firewall configuration is beyond the scope of this article. Also, I have activated the Windows 7 built in firewall. Of course the security updates to the operating system – Windows 7 – are applied as they are made available. The Win7 security updates often require a reboot of the PC and consume about an hour, time well spent. Firewalls and updates are the most basic first line of defense against attack. The next most important procedure is a complete and frequent backup.
Now I will focus on privacy, I use three primary tools (and some others) to protect the privacy of the PC; and the related contents. The major one is anti-virus. My choice is F-Secure Internet Security. I like it because it’s easy to install and maintain. Most importantly it updates very frequently to keep up with the “virus of the hour”. An anti-virus that is not constantly and frequently updated is only a false sense of security. The product allows me to grant internet access to trusted applications; it starts being suspicious of everything – an approach I admire. It does not have a maze of configuration options, just sensible ones that give an adequate amount of user control.
Hungry? How about munching some cookies? My PC munches them constantly. Only firms that I do business with are allowed (in the “whitelist”) to remain over 10 minutes. By default all others are deleted in 10 minutes, the timer allows navigating the site; but deletes to prohibit tracking. The product is called Maxa Cookie Manager and I have well over a million cookies deleted; counting the past 3 years. Some really nasty “tracking cookies” are deleted instantly. There are a few other options, again, the product is easy to configure and mostly works without my involvement. My PC contains about 800 cookies, from about 40 organizations that I work with; and no others.
Would you give strangers your social security number? Of course not. But most PCs willingly give their IP address. That IP is the pathway to the front door of your PC. Presumably you have the firewalls and anti-virus in place. But why test them? Better to not have unwanted “visitors” knocking on your door. Enter Freedome, also by F-Secure. I have it installed on my desktop and also on my Android phone. An Apple version is also available. It creates an encrypted “Private Virtual Network” to hide your IP address and to encrypt all network traffic. Using an unsecured WiFi location, rest easy; all traffic is encrypted – nobody can see a thing. You can choose to have a virtual location from among over a dozen countries around the world. Its menu displays a running counter of attempted and thwarted privacy attacks. The amount of spam email is diminishing!
Cheap security is not good; good security is not cheap. The above apps are licensed on a subscription basis, though not expensive. The authors then can receive a steady revenue stream and afford to improve and maintain the products. Most of the discussed products allow for a few weeks of full functionality trial time. Then they wish to be paid to issue you a code, which is entered into the already installed trial converting it to a longer lasting (usually annual) product.
On the lighter side, I am using a tool that allows the mouse cursor to “wrap around” the screen. Rather than stopping at the left edge, it appears on the right. The same is true of top and bottom. It’s www.mousewrap.co.uk a 5£ (pound) contrib. (or other amount, your option), stops the prompt.