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Security Awareness You Need to Know

Aug 23, 2007
If we were to take a conversation about security, such as this one, and place in the context of a social setting twenty years ago, people would have thought that you were crazy. The issue of security awareness in our society has, by necessity , reached a higher level than ever. Everything from credit card fraud to computer spyware has consumers wondering what they need to do to protect themselves. While much of the worry is well founded the truth about what we need to do protect our assets can be a little cloudy. It's hard to differentiate between rumor and fact and most of us aren't technologically proficient enough to really understand how computer firewalls work or what they do for us.

Start with the software changes. Your goal is to prevent others from accessing your data remotely. A combination of computer firewalls and antivirus PC security software can take your sensitive information from unprotected to secure with very little effort. A firewall can be considered your first line of defense when connected to the internet. In order for information that is behind a firewall to be sent or received from your computer, permission must be granted by the firewall. You can set up your firewall to always grant access to programs you trust and always block access to programs you do not trust. You can also set the firewall to ask for your confirmation before granting access to an unknown program.

Antivirus software protects your computer from viruses that are transmitted over the internet and through file exchanges. A good antivirus program will continually monitor all of your file transfers. However, it is still advisable to fully scan your entire system for viruses once a week. You can schedule this scan to run automatically while you are asleep or away from home. You will also need to sign up for automatic updates to the antivirus program, as new viruses are released daily.

Set an administrative password even if you are the only user of your computer. This will prevent unauthorized parties from opening your desktop and looking through your files. The password should be easy to remember but difficult to guess. If you want to allow house guests or friends to use your computer, create a separate guest account that does not have administrator access. Check online at Microsoft.com for instructions on setting up accounts or ask a computer-savvy friend for help.

Consider physical changes to make your entire computer less likely to be stolen. Store a laptop in a lockable cabinet or safe when not in use and be sure to actually lock the cabinet. You can also buy computer locks that are designed to lock your laptop or desktop computer to a desk or wall. Be especially vigilant when traveling with your laptop. Consider installing GPS tracking on your laptop, always use a locking case, and keep the laptop in your hotel safe when not in use. At home, you should have a home security system to protect all of your valuables.

One of the biggest mistakes that many PC users make is that they fail to back up pertinent information. Most web browsers now let you save password information so that you don't have to type it in every time, but what happens if your system crashes and you have to reinstall your browser? Do you remember your passwords? Make a hardcopy of this information and keep it in a secure location. A big part of security awareness is paying attention to things like this that could potentially go wrong.

Vigilance is the key in putting security awareness to practical use. Developing good habits takes effort, but before you know it your new patterns will be second nature. Do not become paranoid about security, but allow new habits to ease your mind.
About the Author
Denise Nuttall owns the "Home Business Resource Directory" where you can find everything you'll ever need to start, run and grow a home business at: http://www.djnuttall-enterprises.com
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