Computer Security Information

Viruses, spyware, key loggers, and hackers are just a few of the threats to the security of your computer. As soon as you power up your computer, the files on it become vulnerable, even without an Internet connection. Viruses have been a problem as long as computer users have been exchanging files by copying them from their hard drives to diskettes.

Once you connect your computer to the Internet, more security risks rapidly appear. Your email program, your site passwords, and even your browser must be defended. Often the threats are invisible and anonymous. Yet to avoid a disastrous security breach that can result in data loss, or even identity theft, you must take steps to plug potential security holes. In the event of data loss it is recommended to contact data recovery specialist.

A firewall is your first line of defense on the Internet. It is important to use one that monitors data packet transmissions to and from your computer. Windows Defender firewall software ships with Windows XP and Vista. Many people prefer to install a separate firewall program from security giants like Norton or McAfee. These are also good choices for spyware and virus protection. Some free security software has equally good expert and user ratings.

Your next important vulnerability is your email. Threats abound here in attachments, html codes in newsletters, and spam mails that have links to sites that contain malicious content or programs. The best rule of thumb for email is to delete emails from unknown senders. If this seems drastic, do not ever reply to the sender of spam email. This merely confirms that your email address is valid, and sets you up for a deluge of unsolicited email. Don't click on links in email from people you don't know. Do not open attachments to emails from unknown senders.

Strong passwords for online accounts provide your defense against unauthorized use of your identity. Nearly every website requires registration for frequent visitors. So computer users all try to create a password that they can easily remember. However, most people make the mistake of using the same password at many sites, leaving a virtual trail of breadcrumbs that snoopers can easily follow. Some people use their birthdays, the names of family members or part of their address for their passwords.

Security experts recommend that you avoid all of these password patterns. Strong passwords have random characters, and combine numbers with uppercase and lowercase letters. Unless a site prohibits their use, you can make your password more secure by inserting symbols like the pound sign, the ampersand (and), or the exclamation mark into your passwords.

Laptop users have additional security vulnerabilities. Thousands of laptops are left behind annually in hotel rooms, taxis and airports. A misplaced laptop is not only a problem because of the loss of its use. All of the laptop's files also can be read, copied, and distributed publicly by the finder. Guard against this by using a startup password for your operating system. Password protect and encrypt sensitive data, including emails. Only the most persistent hacker will be willing to invest the time needed to conquer multiple levels of security just to gain access to the files stored on your laptop. Use your laptop's wireless connection only at locations that have secure access points.

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