Securing Your Computer

cat2post2Today, 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. ; While some may be looking to phish your personal information and identity for resale, others simply just want to use your computer as a platform from which to attack other unknowing targets. ; Below are a few easy, cost-effective steps you can take to make your computer more secure.

  • Always make backups of important information and store in a safe place separate from your computer.
  • Update and patch your operating system, web browser and software frequently. ; If you have a Windows operating system, start by going to www.windowsupdate.microsoft.com and running the update wizard. ; This program will help you find the latest patches for your Windows computer. ; Also go to www.officeupdate.microsoft.com to locate possible patches for your Office programs.
  • 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.
  • Review your browser and email settings for optimum security. ; Why should you do thisActive-X and JavaScript are often used by hackers to plant malicious programs into your computers. ; While cookies are relatively harmless in terms of security concerns, they do still track your movements on the Internet to build a profile of you. ; At a minimum set your security setting for theinternet zoneto High, and yourtrusted sites zoneto Medium Low.
  • Install antivirus software and set for automatic updates so that you receive the most current versions.
  • Do not open unknown email attachments. ; It is simply not enough that you may recognize the address from which it originates because many viruses can spread from a familiar address. ;  
  • Do not run programs from unknown origins. ; Also, do not send these types of programs to friends and coworkers because they contain funny or amusing stories or jokes. ; They may contain a Trojans horse waiting to infect a computer.
  • Disable hidden filename extensions. ; By default, the Windows operating system is set tohide file extensions for known file types; Disable this option so that file extensions display in Windows. ; Some file extensions will, by default, continue to remain hidden, but you are more likely to see any unusual file extensions that do not belong. 
  • Turn off your computer and disconnect from the network when not using the computer. ; A hacker can not attack your computer when you are disconnected from the network or the computer is off.
  • Consider making a boot disk on a floppy disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised by a malicious program. ; Obviously, you need to take this step before you experience a hostile breach of your system. ;
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