I am not that pro when it comes to computers so please kindly bear with me.
I am concerned about linking my PC that has my Rhino3d and other softwares to the Internet because sometimes when I do, I seem to get hackers who try to get into my computer system. Or tries to send files that jams a software or application on the computer. The easier way is to reinstall them but that interrupts work. Best is to prevent such malice.
So does anyone know how I can protect myself online or when on zoom/Microsoft teams classes or conferences? I am very reluctant to link any computers to the Internet. But online meetings sometimes need screen sharing to show work, so I am trying to figure out how to solve this security problem.
Thanks in advance and I hope to hear some views on this.
One very simple approach that many individuals and firms use to absolutely prevent this sort of thing which requires only minimal understanding of threats (ie: the level you have already shown) is to never connect their work computer to the internet.
Instead they have a second computer which they use for internet purposes. This computer can be much less expensive and less capable, but perfect for its purpose.
It serves as a “sacrificial” buffer between the internet and the main work computer. It’s the one that is frequently backed up with a system that can recover everything to a computer with a reformatted disk if neccesary.
Any new downloads from the net that need to go on the work computer go first to the network computer where they can be distinguished from the potentially damaging junk before being transferred. The transfer can be via “sneakernet” (walking a USB stick with the needed files to the work computer) or over a local area net connection. The network computer is the one where the user is vigilant about using a recent OS version and keeping its updates current. In my opinion Apple and Microsoft provide sufficiently capable built-in security software that there is no need to use third party security software but MacOS and Win 10 both support third party security if preferred.
A word about a local area net to connect the two computers: this takes a little better technical understanding of routers than the usual out of the box install and forget approach. The main point is that computers that are to be kept off the net must be configured in the router without internet access. This means that the local net will allow them access to other computers, printers, etc. on the LAN but not the internet. It also means that if you want to allow web access for brief intervals for software updates or other reasons it is only necessary to to sign on to the router as administrator and turn off the “parental control” (or whatever your router calls the feature). That way you are in complete control of the risk involved according to your judgment. Don’t forget to turn it back on when you’re done!
McNeel provides a fairly easy to use method for “offline” software updates where the update download is done on the network computer and then transferred to the work computer for the actual update. If you deem the risk acceptable you can also just put your offline computer on the net briefly with Rhino running and let it run its automatic update. This approach is, in a practical sense, almost required to get OS updates since Microsoft and Apple have designed their update strategy to force you onto the net. The OS’s will work fine without updates however.
This is an approach to security that doesn’t require you to hire an IT consultant ($$$) or become one yourself (with the heavy time investment that it requires to stay current) yet provides a very high level of security for your work computer.
So this is one approach. I hope it helps.
If you are an ordinary user with a legal, updated version of Windows and you keep your Windows Security up-to-date, there’s only a VERY minimal chance you’ll ever get hacked. At least as long as you stay away from the underbelly of the internet, including cracked software and illegal movies/music. If you actually deal with very sensitive/secret files, either yours or your clients, I would go for the “1 online PC, 1 offline PC” setup suggested by @AlW. How much at risk you actually are might be a regional thing, but here in little Denmark I’ve been using a PC for 30+ years, and have yet to be hacked (and actually never heard of it happening to any of the ordinary users I know) - although I did once download a virus-infected mp3 off Kazaa, but that’s probably some 20 years ago
Just my 2 €
A computer that isn’t online is frankly rather crippled these days, all the hassle of having an “air gapped” workstation is hardly worth it unless you’re working on stuff that actual foreign governments might actually want to steal. Keep proper backups, keep your system up to date, stay away from the sketchier corners of the Internet, and no one will give a damn what you’re up to. No one actually wants your data, at worst they want to lock it up and demand ransom or use your system to mine cryptocurrency.
Why do you think anyone is actually trying to “hack” you? If they were, you probably couldn’t tell. There are spam ads that try to tell you something like that is happening to trick you into clicking a link that will actually load malware onto your computer.
If you think people have had access to your computer or downloaded files to it then you may already be compromised. If you don’t have a top-end antivirus program go buy one quick - I use Bitdefender which regularly compares well with other tools. As part of the install it will do a thorough scan of your PC, including checking for things like root exploits. This isn’t just about protecting you: if you send a client or a colleague an infected file you may be harming them.
If you have to go online then the best defence is to go online more and make sure that Microsoft Updates (or the Mac equivalent) run to keep your operating system up to date and your antivirus software downloads the latest definitions.
Appreciate very much for your time and the detailed reply!
This info is going to be very useful! I was also actually thinking of getting a secondary note book pc as a buffer. But don’t know which one to buy yet though I have short listed a few that runs on win pro. It’s actually a cheap entry level business machine. The other one to consider is one that runs on win pro too, has a low end dedicated graphics card which I thought it could be useful as a backup for small touch ups along with the Internet meetings.
I wonder if I could just do a very cheap win pro Notebook with only 4 gig ram. But thought it might not be very useful and end up wasting money so that’s why the cheap business laptop and the one with an entry level graphics card.
I’m too terrified about being hacked or having the machine compromised. The last time it did, I took almost the whole day fixing it and trying to put all the files in again.
I only surf news and all the very decent sites. The only time I am weary about the hacks is the Internet meetings. Or even the invitation link to the virtual meeting. I once hit on it and the app just went blank and didn’t open. Had to reinstall to go in.
I’m the obedient type. I don’t watch funny crazy stuff or mix with oddball looking characters online or offline. But I do like cute 3d designs on rhino and it’s Zoo of animals!
I have this worry because I have received suspicious links that don’t open and ended up hanging the app. Luckily for me I didn’t use the computer. I was using my cheapo device to do it.
If it’s not for virtual meeting that may use some presentations, I wouldn’t even think of getting another pc.
I think it’s expensive. The money could get me better things.
I update the OS and download firmwares for the PC. Have an antivirus on though its not bit defender. I wonder if win10 pro and its own antivirus is enough. Maybe not. Heard that bit defender is a v good AV.
Another way of doing it is to use mobile data when online. That could cut the risk. These days mobile data isn’t that expensive but need to make sure that the data needed is enough…