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You hear about computer security breeches all the time and how much valuable information leaks out. Have you thought about the information that is on your computer? If you are like most people, you think there isn't really valuable information, so you don't worry. True, you don't have databases of credit card numbers but it you own a computer, you need to secure it to protect yourself from others using your home computer and network to do harm to others. Here is how you can secure your home computer.
Use An Internet Security Suite of Software and Keep It Updated
Internet Security suites of software contains a firewall, virus protection, and spyware protection that protect your computer from malware. Recommended products include Norton Internet Security and McAfee Internet Security. Using a suite of software is the easiest way to keep your computer safe. It is not fool-proof from keeping dangerous malware off your computer. You still must be diligent while online and not fall for scams that will install malware on your computer. The most important issue with keeping your computer safe from malware is to keep the software updated and this is where people get into trouble. If you let the subscription lapse or not update, you are not protected. New dangers come out every day and if the software is not updated, it will allow the new danger. If you can't afford a security suite of software, you can get protection for free but it requires a bit more work on your part to keep it updated. A good free firewall can be obtained at ZoneAlarm. Free antivirus software can be obtained at Grisoft AVG. Anti-spyware software can be obtained at Grisoft AVG Anti-Spyware.
Malware: malicious programs such as viruses, worms, trojans, logic bombs, and back doors. Malware can allow others to use your computer to send spam, install keyloggers that record every keystroke you enter into the computer and that information is sent to a hacker, use of your computer to perform an DoS (denial of service) attack against other computers, or create damage to your computer and the information stored on it.
Secure Your Wireless Connection and Home Network
Have you heard of war drivers? War drivers go out and look for wireless access points and use the free Internet access. With the price of gas, spending all that time to get free Internet access doesn't seem worth it. But if people are looking for anonymous access to do things they wouldn't do on their own, traceable Internet access, it is worth it to them. And do you know who gets in trouble for what they do? Yes, it is you. You need to secure your wireless connection point. The problem is that some people don't even realize they have a wireless access point and those that do, don't know how to secure it because they bought a router, hooked it up and didn't realize they had more work to do after they got it working. Now the directions are lost. Here is what to do to secure your home wireless access point.
Use Secure Passwords and Don't Share Them
Passwords are tough. You have to remember them, so you create easy-to-remember passwords (passwords that are easy to crack). Remembering multiple passwords is hard, so you use the same password for everything (making it very easy for crackers). You don't want to forget the password, so you write it down. Here are some suggestions for creating easy-to-remember passwords and managing passwords.
Update Software and Operating Systems
Patches are vital to computer security. Almost every day software weaknesses are detected and exploited. This is why there are so many updates that come out for software and operating systems. The only way to protect yourself is to install the updates. Thankfully, most operating systems update themselves automatically. Many programs also update automatically. The problem is that when they ask you to update, you say no. Saying no leaves you vulnerable to attack, so next time, say yes. You can check your Microsoft products by going to Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer.
Don't Post Personal Information Online
I am always amazed when I go to MySpace or personal Web sites or what people will send me in emails. Do not share personal information online. Posting full names, birth dates, address, and other personal information can make you a prime target for identity theft or worse.
Be Aware Of Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are Web sites that look legitimate but really belong to crooks trying to get your information. Usually you will be sent an email stating that there is a problem with your information so you need to straighten it out by submitting your correct information. These emails look like they are coming from your bank, ebay or paypal. They are not. Before you enter any information at a site make sure that you went to the site via a bookmark instead of the email link. Also be sure that you are using a secure server when entering personal information. Learn more about phishing.