Thursday, July 11, 2013

Reviewing Your PC Security

It seems dozens of times a year a friend or co-worker asks me to "fix" their PC. This is because generally users of personal computers do not care about how secure their home computers (and laptops) actually are. I believe that this is because the majority of home computer users are unaware of how vulnerable they are to hackers, or how their personal information can be misused. It is, widely and mistakenly, believed that if a mere antivirus is installed, computers are secure. People assume their Antivirus can protect them against all forms of malware, be it a virus, worm, or a Trojan horse. This, however, is far from the reality. Antivirus programs cannot be relied on solely to protect your data and information from hackers.

Here is the Basic Question. Why is it so important to keep your PC secure?

An ordinary person may have no reason to believe why his computer and data may be hacked into, and no knowledge whatsoever of how his personal information might be misused. An unsecured computer over the internet is immensely risky. Your personal information can be altered and abused if your PC security is compromised. Your personal details, such as your Social Security number, credit card numbers, bank and utility account numbers can all be used to access your savings or to open new bank accounts under your name which, consequently may be used for serious crimes such as money laundering or fraud, or simply for stealing your money.

There are some very basic & long standing things you can do. What are they?

There are a number of ways to make sure your PC, and as a result your personal information, is protected properly. First and foremost, reliable anti-virus software must be installed and regularly updated. These are compared to “flu shots,” because they only protect you to a certain extent. Then, you must refrain from opening emails or attachments from people or sources you do not know personally. Take care while opening attachments even from people you know if it is unexpected.

If you want to take same extra steps to protect your PC, Try This.

You must use firewalls to ensure that the ports you are not using are closed off and cannot be used unless you need them. The security updates and ‘patches’ on your operating system and all other software must be kept up to date. All your passwords should be strong, at least eight characters long, and preferably an amalgam of upper and lower case letters and numbers. Keep your PC disconnected from the internet when you are not using it, and keep from sharing access to your computer with people you do not know- sharing files on online servers is very risky. To be even safer, make regular backups of all your data on disks or CDs.

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