- September 2, 2019 at 4:22 pm #112737ArtisanRadioParticipant
Total posts : 498
How secure is your computer? And how safe are your computer practices?
These days it seems that everywhere you go – other Part 15 Forums, computer Forums, general Internet surfing – you read about concerns being raised over computer security. In some cases the writer is almost frantic in his/her haste to get you to do (usually) contortions to avoid whatever the security issue of the day (often overblown) is.
So let’s examine the *real* issues about computer security, focusing on Part 15 broadcasting.
There are certainly computer viruses, malware, ransomware, etc. ‘out there’ that can cause havoc on your computer. But in most cases, with a little common sense (and not much else), you can avoid 99.9% of problems.
First of all, it’s important to keep current backups of all your data, and even hardware (if your budget allows), in the event that something fails. It’s nice to be able to reconfigure some stuff, restore backups if necessary and get back up on the air ASAP. This is whether you take security seriously or not. Listen to Murphy – if something can possibly fail, it usually will (and at the worst possible time).
Second, it’s highly unlikely that you will ever get hacked in the movie sense (teenagers/geeks getting access to your computer via your network in seconds and/or minutes). Things just don’t work that way. Most of those types of hacks are the result of inside information (i.e., from disgruntled employees, or using personal information for passwords) or poor physical security (i.e., physical access to computer devices). With a little care, and random passwords, you can effectively eliminate this threat. Note: ensure that you turn off guest accounts, particularly on servers, and don’t allow anonymous FTP.
It is certainly possible to become infected with a virus or malware. But again, if you take a little care, you can avoid virtually all of the potential problems.
Don’t open e-mails from unknown senders. Don’t follow internet links unless you are absolutely sure that you trust the provider, and even then, hover over the link to see where you’re really going. Never, and I mean never, run an executable from an e-mail, no matter what the source. Even visiting a website can infect your computer, so only visit those sites you trust. Avoid piracy and software download sites if you can (also porn and other dodgy sites). The good thing is that most browsers have some sort of security checking for websites by default, and report if there is an issue.
Make sure that you’re running anti-virus (including malware) software, and keep it up to date. But don’t rely on this software so much that you don’t continue to follow the other rules. I view anti-virus software as a backup, in the event that I get careless.
Keep your computer OS up to date with the latest security patches. There’s even a way to get most of these patches with XP (you can fool Microsoft Update to think you’re a POS – I’ve never had any issues with this ‘fix’). The bigger problem with XP is finding a browser that still works and is still receiving security updates – there are a few around).
You can see that with a little effort and common sense, you can usually avoid computer infections. I think I’ve had maybe 2 viruses in decades of heavy computer use . I was able to recover from both relatively quickly. On the other hand, I’ve had double digits of hardware failures, usually hard drives, but virtually everything you can think of, including motherboards, routers, etc. I always make sure that I keep spares around that are relatively quick to install.
Just to show you what can happen with security carelessness, I recently cleaned someone’s computer and found well over 600 reported problems (after about 6 months of use). I honestly don’t know how most people keep their computers running. I think the answer is, they don’t, at least not properly.
You DON’T need to do silly things for computer security. You don’t need to run a virtual sandbox in your computer, as I read someone suggesting somewhere else. You don’t NEED to have multiple computers, one for surfing and one for broadcasting, for security reasons; however, for backup purposes, that would be a good idea. Just make sure that both are relatively similar in configuration, have the same software, and have the same data so you can switch over to the other in the event of a failure.
You DON’T usually need to have a software firewall running. Firewalls can be problematic. They place load on your system, are really only useful to stop unwanted outbound connections (your router is a much more effective inbound firewall), and can cause networking issues. I usually will run a firewall on a computer when I’ve just installed new software, but will turn it off on a stable system.
Privacy is part of security.
It used to be that everyone used ISP-provided e-mails. Those ISP’s, however, tend to sell those e-mails (read your TOS) and I got tons of junk and virus-infected malware. Using anonymous e-mails helps, both with spam, but also if you ever envision switching ISP’s in your lifetime (particularly with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets).
VPN’s are also another valuable tool in your privacy arsenal. I always use a VPN when visiting a site that I don’t know, and even sometimes when I do know it. If a site doesn’t allow the use of VPN’s, then I just avoid it. There’s usually no reason to insist on a VPN, unless, of course, the site is into heavy duty tracking (which tells me something about the site right away). If a site needs to know who you say you are, they can require a login with secure, multi-level authentication. I can visit and create logins to every site that I want to use with my gmail account.
I recognize that there have been various posts in the past that may have repeated some of these points. It’s useful, however, to revisit them every once in a while. It’s also useful to not panic when someone who really doesn’t know what they’re talking about sounds off about the latest security scare.
- September 3, 2019 at 8:40 am #112750
I have 2 computers. One is my regular one for everything except the broadcast source. I have AVG pay version that protects against everything and it tells me when it found and zapped something. Firefox lets me know if a web site is suspect.
On this computer I have my playlist back up and also on a separate solid state drive that’s put away and on that is also Zara and Play it set up that can be installed on any computer.
My second computer is an entry level 11″ Windows 10 HP laptop just for my audio for broadcasting and is NEVER connected to the internet and therefore no updates to interfere with broadcasting. No anti-virus needed. Only thing there is Zara, Play it, and my playlist again as Play it needs it there to have a path for access. Nothing else on there. Put Zara and Play it on from the back up solid state storage.
And even in the unlikely event something did happen and one of the computers conks out I can just get another computer and write down all my book marked sites like this one and put them on a new one. But that broadcast computer should last a long time as no hard drive, no internet so no infections. It just goes 24/7. Have had my regular computer now a Lenovo T430 for a few years and is great with no problems and has lots of space(250 gig hard drive, or is it 500 gigs?) and i5 processor. The pay version of AVG also protects against hackers and keeps updating and doing computer scans. The pay version was only $25 more as I already had the free version and they offered me this price.
- September 6, 2019 at 7:29 am #112787ArtisanRadioParticipant
Total posts : 498
Well, I received a rebuttal to my original post elsewhere, and I have to say that it’s somewhat laughable.
Most of it was spent lauding the poster’s supposed computer credentials, as if that somehow excuses sloppy arguments.
I will say this. Claiming that you are a computer professional because you have used computers for 40 years is similar to saying that you are a professional mechanic because you’ve driven for 40 years, done a few oil changes and kept the tires inflated.
A professional requires the appropriate education, and the appropriate experience. It’s easy to talk the talk. In my career, I’ve run across many who called themselves computer professionals, and tried to baffle me with B*S* (not realizing that I’ve actually maintained and written operating systems and compilers, worked with the internals to the precursor to the Internet, worked in the field of AI, etc.). They really didn’t understand how to walk the talk. They didn’t tend to work for me very long.
Are computer viruses and malware potentially dangerous? Of course. But are they something to overly stress over? Not if you apply common sense (which obviously isn’t all that common among computer users). Part 15 broadcasters, whom I was targeting in my post, should have sufficient knowledge that, combined with the common sense tips that I provided, allow them to avoid such problems without going through many hoops.
In other words, be careful. Not paranoid.
- September 8, 2019 at 7:55 am #112801
Because I’m on Limited Income I use only one computer for broadcasting which is an HP P15 (I Think) a AMD A4 5000 processor (Not the best but OK), 8 GB Ram and around 500 GB HDD which I will be getting a 2 TB external HDD soon. I have a ton of music on my system and its my ONLY PC use it to Download music, broadcast, Record promo’s without a hitch.
When I was following all tthe paranoia crowd I ran AVG FREE as well as Malwarebytes anti malware. I found that AVG was taking up too much resources according to Winston creator of NextKast who has dealt in computer security. He told me about an interesting article that compared anti virus software with Windows 10’s built in anti virus and malware and to my surprise the external anti virus software didn’t fair much better.
Now I only run what comes with Windows 10 which is always updating and patching. Even with all that extra software I still got a virus about twice since 2016 but I too was able to get rid of them either by using Malwarebytes or by doing a restore to the previous point where things were good and then install and run malwarebytes to delete the viruses that may have been left behind. I do use torrents but know about some of the folks who place them up by paying attention to their reputation. Hey a low income person has to do what we have to do.
When Winston first suggested I only run what Windows 10 had built in to it I’ll admit I was super paranoid about it but I must say my system is running at great speed and NextKast has not given me any issues that I had with all the anti virus software installed while running my station. I don’t have the space or money to run multiple machines as the one I had was bought from Aarons Rent To Own if that tells you anything about my poor income.
- September 8, 2019 at 9:16 am #112802
The only reason I have a separate computer for broadcasting is I can’t use the “regular” one as it would keep getting interrupted by the updates restarting, etc and I have it on the table where I sit and the other one is on a shelf where the other broadcast stuff is. I’d have wires strung across the room. Really, one computer for broadcasting is all you need.
- September 8, 2019 at 10:47 am #112803
Bluetooth Audio to your transmitter is your friend.
Ebay has some really nice bluetooth audio sender/receiver pairs that have nice range about 100+ feet and good audio quality.
- September 8, 2019 at 8:26 pm #112807
I don’t know how that would work with me. The audio from the computer goes via 3.5 mil. audio cable to a small tube headphone pre-amp with bass and treble for some tone control with Play it(which I am now using instead of Zara) that uses the computer sound card, and then via 3.5 to 2 RCA cable to the compressor and RCA cable from that to the MS-100. Don’t see how Bluetooth would work unless it was computer to transmitter. Guess you could get a sender/receiver from the output of the compressor to the transmitter with the RCA connections but the other 2 things need cable connection. Yeah, my computer needs to be together with the other stuff. The separate smaller computer for the broadcast computer is also good for being mobile if I wanted to go somewhere and set up in a different location. Wouldn’t this Bluetooth sender/receiver also need to be powered somehow? More cables. Already have 4 adaptors with the power bar already. Good idea though. I could have wireless connection from the compressor to the transmitter and then locate the transmitter anywhere with out needing to be hardwired. 100 ft range, that would let me get the transmitter to a much better location but wait…..the transmitter still needs power via a wall adaptor! Well it’s a good idea though.
- September 10, 2019 at 8:26 pm #112815
Mark here is how I’ve got my Bluetooth wired up so that it goes to the transmitter. I have my computer going to the Bluetooth transmitter it uses a 3.5 mm Jack. Now on the transmitter end I have the Bluetooth receivers output going to the Sean Cuthbert audio processor then from the audio processor I have it connected to the transmitter. So the signal going to the Bluetooth transmitter is not processed and coming out of the receiver is not processed it goes into the processor which is then processed then to the transmitter.
- November 20, 2019 at 11:31 am #113080Albert HParticipant
Total posts : 1
You can entirely eliminate all your computer security concerns by not using Windoze!
Modern Linux distributions (like Linux Mint – my favourite) are free, easier than Windoze to install, easy to operate and have huge quantities of high quality, zero cost applications. I run a streaming online 24 hour / 7 day station using nothing but Open Source software. We’ve had zero downtime in four years.
Linux is inherently secure, easy to learn and use, and has some great radio broadcast applications. “Rivendell” (for example) is a full-featured radio automation system that’s very widely used by professional broadcasters. Audacity – the audio editor tool – is a native Linux application (that was ported to Windoze for the hard-of-thinking). There are comprehensive audio processing tools that can work in (virtually) Real Time (with minimal latency) because of the inherent speed of Linux.
Give it a go – you have nothing to lose except your preconceptions! You can even set your computer up to “dual boot” if you’re not prepared to remove the Windows training wheels at first.
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