Why You Need to Ring-Fence Those Old Computers with Older OS if You Still Need to Use Them
If you’re concerned about the security of your network and the data on it, then you need to take steps to minimize the possibility of a data breach. 

In some situations, you may be using an outdated PC, meaning the OS is more susceptible to hacks from malicious actors. 

One way to protect your Wi-Fi network is by ring-fencing. 

What is Ring-fencing?

A ring-fence is a comprehensive barrier put up to protect something. In cyber security, ring-fencing refers to isolating a network or a computer containing private/sensitive information. It could also refer to the act of isolating more vulnerable computer systems or networks. The ring-fence is either a comprehensive computer network, a program, or a physical barrier. 

Ringfencing isolates your computer network around firewall-like boundaries. It also prevents them from communicating with other programs and accessing registry keys, network resources, and your files.

Why ring-fence? Because it is highly successful in preventing malware and exploits that do not require the use of files. It also ensures that software does not cross the line into stealing your data. It can also protect your network, especially if you’re still connected to a computer with an older OS. 

You can utilize Ring-fencing to prevent apps from accessing your files or starting other potentially harmful apps, even if they are on your “allow” list.

3 Practical Uses of Ring-Fencing

Let’s take a look at some examples of behaviors that can be “ring-fenced” for an app to mitigate the risk it brings:

1. Microsoft Word

If you walked into an office and asked the occupants if they’ve created or received a Word document with an internal link, chances are you’ll get an 80% positive answer. Once you click the link, it loads up your preferred browser and displays the website page. Most office workers have done this so much that it’s a subconscious action.

You could also complete this process with PowerShell, an application on your computer that calls up a website, which then directs you to the desired web page. 

PowerShell is a common Windows OS program. The average PC user may not know how to create or write a script, but the average hacker certainly does.  

They could create a PowerShell script that takes you to the website you want to go to while opening up a hidden second browser page. With the hidden page, they can interact with your system, access private data, and upload malware to your system. 

Because a regular Word user would never call PowerShell to send someone to a link, ring-fencing prevents Word and other Office applications from starting up PowerShell, ensuring that your machine and data are protected.

2. Regsvr32

Regsvr32 is a Microsoft program running on your computer, and its function is to aid in registering parts of an application while the app is being installed.

It’s a command-line program similar to PowerShell but with complete internet connectivity, even though it doesn’t need it. 

This program is so vital that Microsoft enables Regsvr32 to run in a protected memory space, which implies that no anti-malware or antivirus security scanning product you employ can detect what it does. 

Without knowing, you could easily download an apparently useful application that criminal elements have modified. When you try to install it, it’ll connect to a remote server controlled by the hacker, and when Regsvr32 tries to register part of it, it’ll create a permanent connection to your computer. Through this connection, they can carry out all kinds of nefarious deeds. 

However, if the computer was ring-fenced, the only thing these hackers would have access to is the computer. So, they won’t be able to gain control or access any company network the pc is connected to. 

3. PDF programs

Did you know that most PDF programs come with built-in encryption features? It allows you to secure a document, keeping it tamper-free, even from the recipient. 

Your data can be encrypted and held for ransom if your PDF Program is hijacked.

Fortunately, you can ring-fence a PDF program only to create, edit and save PDF files. You can even take it a step further and deny it the ability to convert Microsoft Office files like PowerPoint, Excel, and Word to PDF since this is a function that is native to Microsoft’s products.

Need a cybersecurity upgrade? Then you need Data First Solutions. Reach out via our Contact Form, or call us at (416) 412-0576.