Antivirus and Backups

A friend just asked, “Trying to do better with my computer. Just installed AVG for Mac and ran it. Is this a sufficient solution in terms of protecting from and eliminating malware? I’m all about easy. Thoughts?”

Here is my long winded answer:

I use Windows and all of my antivirus software is between my ears. If a website asks “Do you want to download or install xxxxx?” I think very long and hard about the people behind that request and what they have to lose. For example, Facebook won’t (overtly) screw you, they have too much to lose. But do you know who is behind the GetFreeStuffForFree! browser plugin?

Figuring out the business model of the company you are considering trusting is a good idea. Be very suspicious If the company looks to be giving everything away with nothing in return. They are getting something, or they wouldn’t be doing it.

Yes, AVG is a good idea. I also run the virus software that comes with Windows, Windows Defender.

You definitely should have your computer back up automatically online. Do this for a few reasons:
– your hard drive will fail some day, that is a certainty. Here’s an article I wrote in 2012 making that plea in more detail: https://www.lee.org/blog/2012/03/30/i-love-you-please-make-offsite-backups/
– If (when??) your computer does get hacked by some malware, a backup will save the day!
– If your computer is stolen or destroyed, a backup will save the day!
– Once you set it up, it’s automatic and EASY!

“But I don’t want to put my data online”

I hear that Time Machine is “the” app for local backups on Apple. If you don’t feel comfortable putting your files online, you can still get a lot of protection. I’ve recommended this in the past: Find 2 external drives (they cost <$80 at Staples) and a friend. Use Time Machine to back up your computer to the hard drive. Be sure to encrypt the backup (it's easy, see here: http://www.mactrast.com/2013/07/how-to-public-how-to-encrypt-time-machine-backups-with-os-x/). Give your friend the backup to keep in the back of their junk drawer. In 6 months, make another backup and trade hard drives with your friend. Can strangers break into your encrypted hard drive? If you use a 12 character or longer password (try the title of your 2 favorite songs or something similar), no. I couldn't find specific security information online about Time Machine but encryption with a long password is very secure. Harkening back to my last comment, Apple would have a LOT to lose if their encryption wasn't good. Oh and here's a funny/good password guide: https://xkcd.com/936/

2 Comments

  1. Frer says:

    Do you have a recommended alternative for CrashPlan, now that it will no longer be offering the service?

  2. lee says:

    Not yet. We may either pay for Crashplan or Acronis True Image. I tried Acronis and it worked well.

    Our family might get a big Qnap NAS drive in January and that might open up some backup sharing. Qnap NAS drives are very smart and we could easily get a 10TB RAID drive. Want to trade encrypted file space? Message me!

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