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The Basics of Computer Security

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Nowadays, people use Internet more and more and most of them are creating our own home computer networks. We can enjoy the benefits of having high bandwidth, instant access to the Internet and make this connection available to multiple computers in and around the home. But for those unfamiliar with computer security, they are completely unaware of the risks they may be exposing their computer to. Computer protection is a very essential and useful field that devises and implements security for your computer system.

Without implementing a proper computer security solution, your computer may become infected with viruses, spyware, and/or adware. These are all forms of malware than can play a part in rendering a computer unusable, destroy valuable information your storing, provide complete control of a computer to another person, allow someone to steal the information on your computer, record your keystrokes and give a 3rd party access to your online bank account, allow someone to use your computer to attack a computer belonging to somebody else, etc.

And if you opted for a wireless network, you could be sharing out your Internet connection to your neighbors or that person who has been sitting outside your house in the car for the last few hours. What is more, you are increasing the risk of exposing your own computer to hackers as a result.

So What Are The Basics of Computer Security?

1. Make sure that the link between you and the Internet is safe.
You need to have a hardware firewall installed between you and the Internet. Most recent devices that connect you to the Internet have one built in, but in any case you need to make sure that what you have is a stateful firewall.
It should give your computer full access to the Internet, but block all traffic trying to access your network when originated from the Internet side.

2. Secure your Internet router.
Change the administrator password and if possible the administrative account name as well. Everyone who has bought that device will know what the default account and password is, so you must change these and make them difficult to guess. This is especially important if you have a wireless network.

3. Install anti-virus software on your computer.
Make sure it scans the computer for viruses at least once a week. Keep the software up to date and make sure that the virus definitions are updated every day. Also make sure that this is monitoring the computer all the time to help prevent it being infected in the first place.

4. Install a personal firewall on your computer.
Not only should this help limit the damage malware can do to your computer, but it should also reduce the chances of this spreading to other computers. Get in the habit of checking the dialogues that you are prompted with and only allow Internet access to applications that really need it

5. Install anti-spyware software on your computer.
Make sure it fully scans your computer for spyware at least every week. Keep the software up to date and make sure that the definitions are updated every day. Also make sure that this monitors your computer all the time.

6. Keep up to date with the security patches for your Operating System.
Microsoft release security updates for Windows every month. However, make sure your computer is configured to automatically check for downloads every day and at a time when your computer is most likely to be turned on.

7. Secure your wireless network.
Do not broadcast your SSID (Service Set IDentifier). Although it can be learned by someone who is determined, there is no point making things easy. So make sure this is disabled.
Restrict access to your wireless network based on the MAC (Media Access Control) address of your computer. Yes, these can be faked, once known, but why make things simple?
Implement WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) or WPA2, if you can, to further secure your wireless network. And use a pre-shared key which is not easy to guess.

With 7 above basic steps, you can be confedent to have a more secure computing environment. Always remember, by implementing proper computer security on our own computer, we are making the Internet a safer place to surf for everyone.