NCA’s ‘Two-Week Opportunity’ – What you can do now

This is not like my ‘usual’ posts, but something that I think is very important and not overly obvious to your usual computer user. I issued similar guidelines like these to all staff at at my employer today, feel free to use this for yours if you are in a similar boat.

As part of the NCA efforts to combat some pretty nasty ransomware being distributed I have some quick things you can do to help secure your computer(s).

1)       Install Malwarebytes Anti Malware and run a deep scan (

This will scan for and remove any malware/spyware currently on your system that could allow for backdoors to other programs. Run this at least once a month to ensure you are secure.

2)      Install Anti-Virus (Also if you are on a Mac!)

While Microsoft Security Essentials is great, it’s not going to keep you safe from a lot (see this PC Pro article), you do need another layer of protection.

And while there are not many viruses for Mac’s, as they grow in market share it will become a very popular target, especially with the general apathy to AV in the Mac community.

  1. Sophos Free ( is excellent for Mac users. I use this on mine and have had no issues.
  2. AVG Free is also very good for Windows and Mac users (
  3. Avast is also very good (
  4. Any commercial package is OK (Norton etc).
  5. Anti-Cryptoware programs – CryptoPrevent has been recommended to be my a colleague as a very good tool, and was also written up in the Telegraph. a

3)      Change your website passwords

  1. Following all the OpenSSL (Heartbleed) exploits and recent data breaches, it would be advisable to change your password for your any accounts you have online, if you have not done to in the last month. Your bank passwords are ones you should change regularly. LastPass has had good reviews from colleagues.

4)      Update your Operating System / Phone Software

  1. Ensure all latest Windows/Mac OS/Linux Distro updates are installed as soon as possible after release. This also applies to your smartphone operating system.

5)      Backup your data

  1. “To go forward, you must first backup”. Tacky quotes aside, the viruses going around these days do some nasty things, Cryptolocker et al. encrypt your data with a random key and ask you to pay to ‘release’ your files. This usually just takes your money and leaves the files encrypted and useless.

As always vigilance is key, if you see an attachment you don’t recognise or weren’t expecting (usually a .zip file) just delete it. Common sense can be the best Anti-Virus on the market.

Please feel free to add to this in the comments. There are always tools and different ways of doing this.

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