Security Tips

Why Should I Care About Computer Security?

Computers help us maintain our financial, social, and professional relationships. We use them for banking and bill paying, online shopping, connecting with our friends and family through email and social networking sites, researching data posted on the Internet, and so much more. We rely heavily on our computers to provide these services, yet we sometimes overlook our need to secure them. Because our computers play such critical roles in our lives, and we input and view so much personally identifiable information (PII) on them, it’s imperative to maintain computer security that ensures the safe processing and storage of our information

How Do I Improve the Security of My Home Computer?

Following are important steps you should consider to make your home computer more secure. While no individual step will eliminate your risk, together these defense-in-depth practices will make your home computer’s defense stronger and minimize the threat of malicious exploit. Connect to a Secure Network. Once your computer is connected to the Internet, it’s also connected to millions of other computers, which could allow attackers access to your computer. Information flows from the Internet to your home network by first coming into your modem, then into your router and finally into your computer. Although cable modem, digital subscriber line (DSL), and internet service providers (ISP) purport some level of security monitoring, it’s crucial to secure your router—the first securable device that receives information from the Internet. Be sure to secure it – you connect to the Internet to improve your computer’s security

Securing Your Home Network

Enable and Configure a Firewall – A firewall is a device that controls the flow of information between your computer and the Internet, similar to a router. Most modern operating systems include a software firewall. In addition to the operating system’s firewall, the majority of home routers have a firewall built in. Refer to your user’s guide for instructions on how to enable your firewall. Once your firewall is enabled, consult the user’s guide to learn how to configure the security settings and set a strong password to protect it against unwanted changes.

Understanding Firewalls

Install and Use Antivirus and Antispyware Software – Installing an antivirus and antispyware software program and keeping it up to date is a critical step in protecting your computer. Many types of antivirus and antispyware software can detect the possible presence of malware by looking for patterns in the files or memory of your computer. This software uses virus signatures provided by software vendors to look for malware. Antivirus vendors frequently create new signatures to keep their software effective against newly discovered malware. Many antivirus and antispyware programs offer automatic updating. Enable that feature so your software always has the most current signatures. If automatic updates aren’t offered, be sure to install the software from a reputable source, like the vendor’s website or a CD from the vendor.

Understanding Anti-Virus Software

Remove Unnecessary Software – Intruders can attack your computer by exploiting software vulnerabilities (that is, flaws or weaknesses), so the less software you have installed, the fewer avenues for potential attack. Check the software installed on your computer. If you don’t know what a software program does and don’t use it, research it to determine whether it’s necessary. Remove any software you feel isn’t necessary after confirming it’s safe to remove the software. Back up important files and data before removing unnecessary software in case you accidentally remove software essential to the operating system. If possible, locate the installation media for the software in case you need to reinstall it.

Modify Unnecessary Default Features.

Like removing unnecessary software and disabling nonessential services, modifying unnecessary default features eliminates opportunities for attack. Review the features that came enabled by default on your computer and disable or customize those you don’t need or plan on using.

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