Basic Computer Security

By: Taylor J

Unfortunately for us all, there are people out there who wish to do harm to other peoples' property and/or intend on engaging in the act of theft from another person. Sadly enough, there are still these kinds of people out there that wish to do the same - only to your computer. Sure, you can keep your computer secure by never shopping online, checking email or essentially using the internet. However, by doing so, you would essentially defy the point of having the internet.

Security first depends on what operating system. The vast majority of computer users have some form of Windows. While Macs and Linux machines are LESS LIKELY to be susceptible to attacks/viruses/spyware, anything is possible and you must take that into an account. Since the majority of people use Windows, that is where this guide's focus will be. However, if you use Linux, a handy tip is to remember what your file permissions are, make sure to set permissions to 700 (Linux users know what this means) on things that only you need to see/use.

Basics - The bare basic security of a system doesn't come from a program, it comes from you, the user. You need to be smart and responsible about things that can potentially harm your computer. Here's a list of things NOT TO DO: Don't visit adult/warez sites (these sites can download malicious spyware onto your computer and even viruses), Don't accept ActiveX controls EXCEPT from sites you trust, Don't open email attachments that are questionable or that are from an unknown sender and finally: Don't give people a reason to hack/send a virus/infect your computer. You'd be surprised how many viruses are sent out of spite from one user to another. Also be very wary of what you download. Just because the site appears reputable doesn't always mean that the program or files it has are safe. Make sure you have a trustworthy site loaded on your browser before you start downloading everything in site. Dealing with Spyware - Spyware is a plague to us all. It not only is a drain on system performance, it may contain key loggers/data miners that can see what you are typing and when. Scary huh? The first thing to avoid with spyware is to avoid getting it in the first place. However, it is not always possible and it does happen to the best of us. I would recommend that all computers have some sort of anti-spyware program. I personally recommend Spybot - Search and Destroy because of its ability to "immunize" against spyware, its quick scan times and its efficient removal. However, any anti-spyware program will work as long as it works well and can clean your system. Another way to further protect your computer from spyware is using a different internet browser. Many spyware files are only tuned to Internet Explorer, so this can be a real help in preventing spyware. FireFox, for example, is an excellent internet browser and can even be installed on your computer with internet explorer. It's also free, which is a plus. Its ease of use and modular expandability make it highly recommended.

Keeping Viruses Away - Viruses are potentially devastating to any system. Viruses can rang from pranks, to serious ones that can erase your entire hard drive or gather important documents from you. EVERY COMPUTER CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET SHOULD HAVE AN ANTI-VIRUS! I honestly cannot stress this enough. Unfortunately, there are not many free anti-viruses that are extremely good. However, Avast! anti-virus has shown some potential and can help keep your system constantly monitored. If you only need a free virus scanner, Trend Micro offers a free online virus scan that can remove most viruses from your system. This is also recommended even if you have an anti-virus as it is nice to see if another program can pick something else that another missed. However, if you require better protection than a free anti-virus, then you should more than likely upgrade. For an anti-virus that costs money, Symantec makes a great product that is reasonably priced and will keep your computer running happily.

Firewalls - A firewall can save your butt in more way then one when you're using a computer. A good firewall is a great defense against those who want to do harm/infiltrate your computer. In my opinion, the ZoneAlarm free firewall is one of the best free solutions there is. Though, sometimes people just don't want to download anything or install it. This is why Windows XP has a firewall built into it. If you refuse to get a firewall, activate the XP firewall because it is better than nothing. Conversely, a firewall that you pay for is more than likely better than something that you can get for free. Trusted brands such as ZoneAlarm, Norton, Trend Micro and other big names all produce a good firewall that isn't terribly expensive.

Updating - ALWAYS keep your security software and Windows updated. Many Windows updates involve beneficial security updates that make it more difficult for others (including programs) to compromise your system's security. Also update all of your firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software. By doing so, your computer will have the latest defense against things (and people) that you don't want in your system.

I hope this guide has been beneficial to you and if you have any more questions, don't be afraid to email me or visit my site:

Security
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Security