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Computer Security – Measures to Take
A few decades ago, computer hackers wrote viruses and other malicious software for the sake of amusement or for intellectual gratification. But today, a person with computer skills and lack of moral values can steal millions of dollars from people around the world. This has enticed more and more people to the dark world of cyber-crime, and created an ever increasing need to understand and implement computer security.
Computer security is a multi-pronged problem. It challenges us in different ways at many levels.
As an individual, you face this problem as soon as you boot your computer. If the computer is infected with a virus, data on hard disk may be destroyed or stolen. You face a bigger threat when you get on the internet. Internet exposes you to malicious websites which can steal your credit card or account information and rob you of our assets. Even if you are careful with the way you use computer, computer security is still a problem for you. For example, if your
email host is not prompt enough in applying latest security patches, your email server can be compromised and your personal information stolen. Recently, network of one of the major retailers was hacked and millions of its customers lost their credit card numbers.
The stakes in computer security for corporate and other organizations are even higher. Apart from financial assets, a company is at a risk of losing its trade secrets if it’s not secured enough. Similarly, in recent years cyber espionage has become a big threat for governments worldwide. All countries are at a risk of losing their military and other secrets if their networks are broken into.
But it's not all bad news. It's possible to mitigate most of the above threats without diminishing the utility of computers. Organizations and governments have a team of professionals which constantly toil to keep their computer systems safe. As an individual, you can also contribute to computer security at your end. Following are important steps you can take.
1) Download and apply latest operating system and browser patches regularly. This process is very easy and on Windows it can even be automated.
2) Install good anti-virus software and firewall on your machine. Download latest patches and upgrades regularly. This will ensure that most common security breaches on your computer are prevented or at least detected.
3) Avoid going to websites which you don't trust. This list includes websites which offer free software, songs, images, videos or other things to lure users.
4) Don’t download emails from an unknown sender. Emails are a common medium for transmission of viruses and other malware.
5) Pick a password which is combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Many accounts get hacked because their passwords are easy to guess.
6) Don’t give your personal information on websites which you don't trust. It's surprising, but most people don’t hesitate in filling their personal information on suspicious websites, including their name, address, social security number and date of birth.
7) Secure the computer physically; keep it in a locked room. This is often an overlooked aspect of computer security in organizations. Despite firewalls, anti-virus software and other security measures, a computer is very vulnerable if an unauthorized person can walk to it and breach into its security.
A noted computer expert once said that the only computer which is fully safe is the computer not connected to any wire. (With the advent of wireless networks even that is not true anymore!) He was cautioning that whatever steps you take, you cannot eliminate the risk
completely. This fact should not prevent us from using the power of computers, but should make us more careful in the way we use them.