Computer Security 07/28/2010
This weeks post deals specifically with the subject of computer security. Now, mind you, people who don't have good security policies on their home PC are not to be mocked, for they are often the ones that need my help the most.
That said, here are some basics that you, the regular joe, can do to keep your system safe, sane and secure.
1. Always make sure you have the latest patches from Microsoft: Windows is the most ubiquitous operating system on the PC market today, with Linux coming in second. Microsoft wants to make sure that the version that you are running is the most up to date. This means making sure that your auto-update feature works. A word to the wise for those of you running Dells and HP computers: Make sure that the update managers for your respective PCs are running and current. If there are any issues, contact them.
2. Have an Anti-Virus program running and make sure it's kept up to date: I recommend AVG, Avast and for those of you on a tight budget, Clam AV for Windows. Also, don't be fooled if you are running an existing AV program and get a pop up saying that your computer is unprotected. Most OEM PCs like Dell, HP and the like have their own built-in AV program that you can use for a limited time. Chances are, they won't send you a pop up. Which means if you've clicked on that pop up you have fallen prey to "scareware"
3. Speaking of pop ups and the like, if you get an attachment from someone that you know, make sure it's legit: Most AV programs have an email scanner that can scan all incoming emails. If the program says don't open it, contact your friend and ask them if they sent you anything. If they didn't, do not open the email, just send it to the trash.
4. Physically security: You can have the best password in the world for your BIOS, your OS and so forth, but that's not going to amount to a hill of beans if someone steals your laptop from your bag, or breaks into your apartment and steals your desktop. If you have a laptop, make sure that it is secure. This means taking it with you or storing it under your feet if you're on a plane. If you have to leave it in the office overnight, use a cable lock, a laptop locker, or a desk drawer that locks. Also consider using a theft-prevention plate, which is a permanent bar code mounted onto the PDA or laptop that tells the would-be thief that he or she cannot sell this laptop and the police will know how to find it.
5. Always make sure your data is backed up. Sometimes, life happens, and your PC gets lost or damaged or whatever. As long as your essential data is backed up (a service that we provide here at KUO), you need not worry.