SHCC WYSIWYG Article from September 2014

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This article was written by Don VanSyckel, the club president, as a part of "The President's Pen".  This article appeared in the September 2014 WYSIWYG newsletter.

PC Security and KVM Switches

by Don VanSyckel

I wanted to start the fall off by offering a thought about PC security. There are more and more ways that the bad guys can get around security. It seems that the higher we build the wall, the longer the ladder that is brought to breech the wall. I was thinking that possibly we should divide and conquer. What could this mean?

With the price of PCs fairly low, many people have upgraded or replaced their PC. So do all your local stuff, like check book, Christmas list, and every thing else except web surfing on your new PC. On this PC only go to your bank and other trusted financial sites where you actually have accounts. You'll be fairly safe this way.

Then on your old PC, remove all personal data and use this PC for general web surfing. Anywhere but any of your financial sites. If this PC gets hacked, so what. You can even use that old WinXP PC for this.

A couple of ideas to make doing this easier, get an imaging software package and make an image of the old PC. This way if you suspect the PC has been infected or breached you can easily reset the PC back to a known state. You might even just reload the PC every six months, just because. Another idea is get a keyboard / mouse / video / audio switch this device allows two or more PCs to use one set of devices. This way you don't have the clutter of a second set of devices in your way.

These switches are very handy but you need to get one that meets your needs. Two and four port switches are readily available. Another feature to look for is audio switching which many switches do not include. You can have a second set of small speakers without much fuss if the switch doesn't include audio. The other feature that you should consider is the process that switches between ports. Some switches have push buttons to select a port. Some have one push button to cycle through all ports in turn. Some switches detect a certain key press or set of key presses to cycle through the ports or choose a certain port. Some switches have a couple of these methods.

I have a four port switch with audio. The Win7, WinXP, and laptop docking station are all connected. It is a lot more convenient and doesn't take as much space. Once a year of so the switch gets confused and seems to not work, I turn everything off, and start over and it's good for another year. The switch I have is powered from the USB connections to the various PCs and switches the ports electronically not mechanically.. The docking station never turns off completely because the power adapter is plugged into it. I believe this contributes to the switch getting confused and I unplug the power from the docking station during the reset operation.

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