How To Secure Your Computer System?

By Edwin Zhang

Today, more and more people are using their computers for everything from communication to online banking and investing to shopping. As we do these things on a more regular basis, we open ourselves up to potential hackers, attackers and crackers.

There are numerous ways in which the security of your computer can be breached. The most common threats come from worms, viruses, Trojans, phishing, hackers and crackers. Potential security breaches can come in the form of downloading unfamiliar email attachments, being monitored by spyware, maliciously attacked by malware, or probed through port scanning.

Computer security can be a difficult concept for many people. But as long as you follow these easy, cost-effective steps, you can take to make your computer more secure.

1. Always make backups of important information and store in a safe place separate from your computer.

There are so many ways you can lose the information on your computer. Your child decides to play Chopin on your keyboard, a power surge, lightening, a virus, or even simple equipment failure. Therefore, backing up the contents of your hard drive is an absolute MUST. By regularly making backup copies of your files and storing them in a separate location, you can typically get some, if not all, of your information back in the event your computer crashes.

2. Don't run unfamiliar programs on your computer and do not open unknown email attachments.

It sounds like common sense, but many of the most prominent attacks have involved spyware and email attachment worms such as Bagle and Netsky. If you don't recognize the sender, don't download its attachments. Sometimes it is simply not enough that you may recognize the address from which it originates because many viruses can spread from a familiar address.

3. Update and patch your operating system,web browser and other applications frequently.

Many industry experts believe that most network security attacks would be stopped if computer users would just keep their computers updated with patches and security fixes. Too often, we forget to do this on a regular basis. Remember that every day, new viruses, worms and Trojans are being created and distributed. They are looking for the weaknesses in your computer system. Having outdated software is basically the same as holding the door open and inviting them in for a visit.

4. Install a firewall.

Without a good firewall, viruses, worms, Trojans, malware and adware can all easily access your computer from the Internet. Consideration should be given to the benefits and differences between hardware and software based firewall programs.

5. Install antivirus software and set for automatic updates so that you receive the most current versions.

6. Don't use weak passwords.
Use passwords which are difficult for someone to figure out. People frequently use the names of children, pets, anniversary dates, or birthdays. Because there seems to be a password needed for everything, it is not uncommon to see many people using the same password for everything.

Big mistake! The use of only one password provides a hacker with easy access to a smorgasbord of personal information. If you have to write your passwords down, it is best not to leave them on a post-it, attached to the screen of your computer. You may chuckle at the absurdity, but it happens more than you think.

7. Don't allow unrestricted physical access to your computer.

If you have sensitive or proprietary information on your computer, allowing other employees or family members to use your computer can lead to potential breaches in your computer's security.

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