Computer & Web Security 101

Securing your computer and protecting it from viruses, spyware and malware is of the utmost importance in order to protect your data and your privacy. Not only does this protect you put this also protects your computer from possible corruption and harm. Privacy and security work hand-in-hand and this process and these precautions should be established from the beginning. Checking this process and keeping it updated during the life of your computer is highly recommended.  These measures will be especially important if you’ll be using the Internet, sharing files and or connecting to others. Otherwise, the level of security of your computer should be adequate for non-network use.

Step 1:  Use an operating system (OS) that has built-in security and vulnerability features. Examples of operating systems would be Linux, Windows etc. Find out what the permissions are regarding files and user access. Make sure that the operating system can be updated and patched manually and automatically. It is also important when updating your operating system to update the software components as well.

Step 2:  When choosing a web browser make sure that you use one based on its security features. In most cases viruses and Malware will try to make their way through the vulnerabilities in the web browser right into your computer. Examples of Web browsers would be Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google chrome. The more security features and higher level of security the better.

Step 3:  When setting up your user accounts make sure to use strong passwords. Strong passwords are known as a combination of letters (capitals and lowercase), numbers and symbols. They should be at least six characters in length and as an added precaution do not tie them to a birth day, a relative’s name, pets name or anything that is associated to you and may be guessed.

Step 4:  If you will be downloading software make sure you download from trusted sources. This includes antivirus software.


Step 5:  Choose highly capable and robust antivirus software. This is your main defense against trojans, viruses, keyboard loggers and other malware. Make sure that the software offers real-time scanning (manual and automated), quarantine capabilities, removal and reporting. Also make sure to keep your antivirus software definitions and versions updated for best performance. Examples of antivirus software are AVG, Avast, Webroot, Norton.

Step 6:  In addition to the antivirus software you can install additional software which checks for spyware. Though these two types of software may seem to be redundant they are not. They actually complement each other and in dealing with security, less is never more. Spyware has the capability to find holes on websites and filter through to computer systems and deliver or place malicious code (programs) that can go undetected, capture your data and sensitive information and leave you vulnerable or compromised.


Step 7:  Download and install a firewall. There are a number of great firewall options available, even some that are free. However remember that the old saying stands, you get what you pay for. If you use a router, this gives an added layer of security by acting as a hardware firewall.


Step 8:  Make sure that whichever ports are not being used are closed. Scanning for open ports is one methodology used by hackers to find holes so they can deliver their malware.


Step 9:  Periodically perform penetration testing and scanning. Ping your system and run pen test diagnostics to show areas of weakness and vulnerability.


Step 10:  In order to complement the logical security measures taken you must also take into consideration physical security. If you will be using any external devices such as USB thumb drives, CD drives or hard drives make sure that they are always accounted for and that no one else has access to them. These external devices also increase your level of vulnerability as they can be lost or stolen or misplaced.

Another effective method for securing your data is known as encryption. Encryption is highly recommended and should be used for specific applications, files or, even better yet, entry to your system.

Overall, even after performing these logical and physical security measures it is inevitably up to the user to keep up with security. When considering security keep in mind that adequate is faulty and more is better. Your private information should remain that way and is worth much more than the amount of time or money spent in securing your computer. The repercussions of unauthorized access, computer breach or lost or stolen data can be devastating and is definitely not thwarted by doing an adequate job.

If you keep any data that must be destroyed in order to prevent compromise then be conscious of where you back up that data and how it is kept. Moreover, the possibility may exist that it may be unwise to keep that type of data from the onset.


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