Posts Tagged ‘pc security’

How to Protect Against Computer Spyware

Computer spyware could be compromising your security, as well as the reason why your computer is operating so slowly.

Spyware is a type of computer program that attaches itself to the operating system. Once there, it steals your processing power and tracks your internet habits. It can nag you with unwanted sales offers or try to get you to visit a specific website. Some computer experts believe that as many as 80% of personal computers have some sort of spyware hiding on them.

What is Spyware

Contrary to popular perception, spyware is not technically a computer virus. Computer viruses are designed to replicate themselves over and over again, spreading form one computer to any it is connected with. It may also be designed to destroy personal files or the entire operating system.

In contrast, spyware isn’t designed to harm your computer. Instead it is any program that runs in the background of your computer without permission and makes unwanted changes. The damage is a by-product, not its main mission.

How You Get Spyware

Spyware can infect your computer from an action that you perform, such as installing a software package or clicking on a popup. Often, spyware uses trickery to get you to install them by giving you fake alert messages.

How Spyware Can Sneak On Your PC

  • Piggybacking onto other software – Some applications install spyware with their installation procedure. You should read the installation list closely, particularly if you are using a free version of the software.
  • Unsafe Downloads – In some cases, a popup window or website will try to download spyware onto your computer. You may receive a warning asking if it is ok, however, if you do not have a reputable computer security program installed you may not even receive a warning.
  • Add-ons for your browser – Add-ons, modules, or plugins, are designed to enhance your browser. While they may do what they are intended to do, these will often include spyware as part of the deal. In other cases they may be nothing but pure spyware. Some of these applications can be very difficult to remove once installed.
  • Anti-spyware that’s… not – This is one of the worst tricks in the book. It tells you that it will remove spyware; all the while it is downloading spyware of its own.

What Spyware Does

Spyware can do numerous things once it is installed. Generally, it will run a program in the background that will steal memory and processing power. It can also create pop-up ads that slow down your web browser. It could reset your homepage to an ad or redirect your web searches to show only results that benefit it.

Spyware can also cause your computer to have difficulties connecting to the internet. In its worst form, spyware will record your personal information, such as passwords, private information, and websites that you visit. It can also change your dial-up connections, reset firewall settings, and prevent you from removing it.

The reason spyware is created isn’t always clear. Often it can try to pad the traffic statistics for an advertiser to help them generate more revenue. It can also be used to steal affiliate credits by taking credit for sending you to a particular website.

How to Protect Your Computer Against Spyware

If protecting your computer security is important to you, then you will need to look for ways to protect yourself against spyware. Here are some tactics to protect your computer:

  •  Spyware scanner. You can use a trustworthy spyware scanner to detect and remove spyware. There are several reliable free programs available, and they work in the same manner that anti-virus software does. You may have to remove the spyware yourself once it has been detected, or the program may be able to remove it for you.
  •  Pop-up blockers. Pop-up blockers are designed to block pop-up windows so they can’t open. You can set it up so you get a warning message when a pop-up has attempted to open, and you can choose to allow pop-up windows from trusted sources.
  •  Disable Active-X. Many spyware applications use Active-X to run, and you can choose to disable this function. However, this can interfere with the functionality of some websites that use Active-X legitimately.
  •  Download and install only trustworthy software. Always be suspicious when you are asked to install something on your computer. If you don’t recognize it, don’t download it. If it is a trustworthy application, you should be able to go back and download it later if you really need it.
  •  Use “X” to exit. Avoid clicking “cancel” or “no thanks” on any suspicious pop-ups, particularly those that are designed to look like a fake warning. Either use the red X in the right-hand corner, or use the close window keystroke combination to close out the window to avoid the installation of spyware.

 

Windows Updates and Their Security Impact

Microsoft Windows updates are a two-edged sword. On one hand, they can provide your computer with the updates that it needs to ensure that the system operates at a maximized proficiency, while simultaneously keeping your computer security at an optimum level. On the other hand, Windows updates can create new flaws in your operating system that can make it easier for hackers and malware to access your system.

Periodically Microsoft will generate Windows updates. These can be used to patch over bugs in the system, fix flaws in computer security that were exposed in previous updates, and generally improve your computers performance. However, because the amount of time it takes to create updates, newly found bugs are often not fixed until several patches later. Thankfully, most users are not susceptible to the majority of the bugs, provided they follow basic Internet safety guidelines.

The Windows Update Security Center and its Security Impact

The Windows Vista Security Center is designed to furnish your system with the latest updates. Updates on this center often help to improve the firewall, make your regular Windows updates more secure, and can help prevent spyware from being installed on your computer.

Windows Vista does not contain virus scan software, which is why new users will see a warning message telling them that their computer is not adequately protected from viruses. If you install anti-virus software that the Windows update doesn’t recognize, then you may also receive this same warning message or a stronger warning. Hence, although Windows updates are a measure to implement in your security tactics, it is also advisable to install approved and recognized anti-virus software.

Windows Updates – A Think Tank of Security Measures

Microsoft has proven to be innovative, and they have experienced dramatic success. Today, however, they are faced with growing competition from companies such as Apple and Linux. Microsoft knows that they must remain competitive, and they understand that it is people, not software, which drives their company. To this end, Microsoft consistently hires some of the best programmers in the world, who are drawn to Microsoft as they wish to be employed by a leading, Fortune 500 company.

When infusing the Microsoft Updates into your computer system, you are essentially installing updates from some of the best minds in the world. Their on-going and relentless evaluation of security measures helps Microsoft to fix and repair security bugs often before they become known publically, or worse, to hackers. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Thus, installing Windows updates helps to prevent possible infiltration by hackers and identity thieves alike.

Windows Updates

You can set up your computer security to automatically check for Windows updates that will give you the needed updates as they become available. Manually performing this task is easy by selecting the option in the Control panel.

The Windows Update function is no longer web-based, and as the function resides internally you now have a much faster update function allowing you to look for both Windows updates and other Microsoft product updates seamlessly. When available, you will receive a notice to install any important updates that will affect your computer security and your computer performance, as well as any additional updates, such as drivers and peripheral updates, which are not mandatory and available as an optional download.

To install updates, simply click on the button and the automated installation of your updates will be installed. You can also choose to hide the update if you need to ignore it. You can adjust your settings for Windows updates under the Change Settings option, which allows you to decide how frequently and at what time you want to check for Microsoft Windows updates.

The Windows update option will also allow you to choose what types of updates you want to check for. Essential updates will install automatically when you shutdown your computer, and you should only change the setting if you connection is not compatible or you do not want that particular update. Windows may also ask you to reboot your computer for certain updates, which can be disabled if you are logged on and do not wish to reboot at that time.

Windows Updates of Service Packs

You can also use your Windows Updates to download and install essential Windows Service Packs. You must install the service packs chronologically, thus the first Service Pack before you install the second. All service packs may be downloaded from Microsoft’s Download Center.

Prior to installing, you should always disable your virus scan software before you install the service packs to make sure that your computer security does not prevent the installation from occurring.

After the installation has occurred, you can delete the files from the installation to free up more memory on your computer. You can use the command COMPCLN in your Start Search Field and then hit Y to confirm. This will only work once both Service Packs have been installed. You can also delete other update files once updates have occurred to create more memory space for your computer.

By downloading and installing Windows Service Packs you are taking needed measures to ensure the protection of sensitive data against an onslaught of attackers.

How to Remove a Virus

Viruses are running rampant on the internet, and it creates a direct risk to your computer security. If a virus infiltrates your computer, it can destroy your data, allow someone to steal your personal information, or cause even worse damage. For that reason, virus removal is very important. Every day, hundreds of people fall victim to viruses, malware, and spyware, so there is a significant chance that at some point you will need to know about virus removal.

The most important thing to do when you have a computer virus is to avoid panicking. Panicking will not help the situation, and it could cause you to make mistakes that will further add to your problem. Most often you will not have to wipe your computer completely clean to facilitate the virus removal. In fact, you may be able to remove the virus without losing any data.

Removing a Virus – Detection

Before you can begin with virus removal, you have to determine if you have a virus. If your computer suddenly becomes sluggish or if your web browser looks different, you could have a virus on your computer. Another sign of infection is if your computer starts crashing frequently or if you attempt to open files and are told that they are corrupted.

To confirm a computer virus and its location, you will want to run antivirus software. Purchase or download an application to your computer. If the virus prevents you from doing so, you may have to transfer the program from another computer using a disk or flash drive.

Finding and Removing the Virus

When you are ready to remove a virus, it is important to remember that two antivirus programs are not better than one. Besides the fact that antivirus programs will eat up a lot of the available processing power on your computer, running two at once could cause your computer to crash. In addition, most often antivirus programs do not work together, thus crippling the functionality of both.

Running the antivirus software will alert you as to where the virus is housed on your machine, and you’ll need to make a list of the applications that are discovered. Your antivirus program may be able to remove or isolate the virus for you, but you will need to select this option. In most cases, this is a better alternative to attempting virus removal on your own.

If everything runs successfully, shut off your computer and run the software again. You should come up with a clean sweep, and if not you will need to continue removing viruses. If your program discovers the same virus again, you may have to manually perform the virus removal yourself.

Virus Removal Tips for Better Computer Security

  •  Use the boot disk. If your antivirus software allows you to create a special boot disk, then you can restart your computer with this disk. This will allow your computer to run a virus scan immediately on startup, hopefully bypassing the virus code and allowing you to disable the virus.
  •  Try safe mode. If you find the same virus is popping up on each scan, then you can try starting your computer in safe mode. This allows you to operate your computer and perform computer security tasks using only the core elements of Windows.
  •  Run the antivirus program in safe mode. This can allow you to find hidden viruses and allow you to remove all infected applications.

If you find that your antivirus software cannot complete the virus removal, you may have to do some additional research. Look for the files online with your antivirus software provider and it should be able to tell you where to find the virus and how to remove it.

Remember to save a backup copy in your registry folder in case you accidentally delete something important. Then delete all of the files associated with the computer virus, reboot your computer, and try the antivirus software again.

Worst Case Scenario in Virus Removal

If you have tried repeatedly to delete a virus and the above methods aren’t working, then you may be forced to do a complete system wipe. This will require you to format your hard drive and reload the operating system. Therefore, you should make sure that you make backups of all the important virus free files that you have to prevent essential data from being lost.

Virus removal can be difficult, so the best way to remove viruses is to avoid getting them in the first place. Be savvy when using the internet to help prevent your computer from catching a virus that will compromise your computer security.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet

The internet can be a valuable source of information, entertainment, and socialization. In fact, the internet can virtually open the doors to all possibilities. However, there are also certain computer risks that come along with connecting your computer to the internet. Here are some of the hidden internet dangers that could affect your family.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Exposing Children to Inappropriate Material

Most parents are already aware of the computer risk that walks hand in hand with the internet – the risk that their child will stumble upon something inappropriate. It is difficult to regulate the Internet, and children can easily find inappropriate material even from seemingly innocent keyword searches. Filtering programs can only go so far to protect children, and may have their own hidden agenda.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Invasion of privacy

Another risk that comes along when hooking your computer up to the internet is the risk that you or your child will be hurt or exploited. Any information that is posted online should be considered public information, and giving away personal information could place you identity and your security at risk. Children are particularly at risk for believing everything they read online, making them a high risk contender of child predators and scammers that could be looking to steal their identity or worse.

A subset of this is the “stranger danger” that is present to all children online. Online predators may attempt to establish a relationship with a child, earning their trust. Besides the risk of identity fraud, some predators may take it as far as trying to stalk the child. Public chat rooms are particularly dangerous to children who may not know who they are talking to.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Copyright Infringement, Plagiarism, and Cheating

When articles, pictures, and other information are posted online, they remain the intellectual property of someone else. However, this is hard to police, and many people, children and adults included, think nothing of stealing someone else’s work online. The internet has created new ways for people to cheat, from offering already written term papers to the posting of answers to quizzes and other homework. Thankfully, while the Internet can make cheating easier to do, it can also make it easier for teachers to check if their students are cheating.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Faulty Information

Since the information online is in no way policed, there is no real way to tell whether the information you are receiving is accurate. In some cases, if you trust the source, you can obtain accurate information from the internet. In many other cases, however, there is no way to tell how accurate the information is, and in some cases it may be entirely someone’s opinion or falsified statistics. Anyone can publish information on the Internet, regardless of whether or not they are an expert in the subject.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Hackers

Hackers are individuals with knowledge in how to find and use weaknesses in computer software to their advantage. In some cases the activities may be minor, but in other cases hackers can spread viruses and steal personal information. The techniques utilized by hackers are growing increasingly difficult to defend, as evident in the growing number of victims.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Malicious code

Sadly, the internet is full of viruses, worms, and other malicious codes that can harm your computer and steal your information. Viruses are infections that come from a specific activity you have done, such as opening an email from an unknown source or downloading an attachment. Worms can enter the system on their own, and then spread from your computer to any others you are in contact with. Trojan Horses are designed to look like one thing, yet have a hidden agenda that it runs in the background and steals information.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Time management

While this computer risk may not be as severe as others that come from hooking your computer up to the internet, time management presents a major problem for children and adults alike. In fact, there are now many rehabilitation centers which specialize specifically in Internet addiction.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Health

You might not think that hooking your computer up to the internet would present health risks, but it can. Most commonly, heavy internet users suffer from repetitive strain injuries, eyestrain, and skeletal problems. The arm and wrist is the most common spot for repetitive strain industries, particularly on the side that uses the mouse. Posture problems are also common. And since electronic displays are harder to read than printed words, long term computer use can also lead to eyestrain. In extreme cases, it is even thought that overuse of the Internet could cause depression as some users try to replace normal human interaction with email and instant messaging.

There are numerous risks associated with connecting your computer to the internet. However, the more aware you are of these risks, the easier it is for you to avoid them.

 

What Do Firewalls Contribute to PC Security?

There are numerous hidden dangers out there than can affect your PC security, and the tactics grow daily. Since computer security is so important to keeping your personal information safe, most computers now come with a firewall, while those that do not strongly recommend that you install one. Here is a look at how firewalls work and how they can protect your PC’s security.

How Firewalls Keep you Secure

A firewall is needed for anyone who is on the internet for an extended period of time. Companies often use them to block access to certain sites by their employees; however, you may also utilize them at home to protect your personal computer. A firewall offers you PC security against hackers and offensive websites. Simply put, a firewall is a barrier that keeps unwanted items from accessing your computer, much like a physical firewall prevents a fire from spreading from one area to another.

The Firewall Software and What it Does for Computer Security

In the virtual world, a firewall is a program that filters information. If incoming information is flagged, the computer will not allow it through. This helps protect your computer for questionable content that could be of danger to you.

In a company scenario, a business often has multiple computers that are connected together. These computers are often simultaneously connected to the internet. If there is no firewall set up, all a hacker would have to do is access one computer in the network and he or she could access all of the company computers.

It would only take one employee leaving a computer unprotected for the entire company’s PC security to be at risk. A firewall is placed at each point of entry to the internet, thus creating a virtual barrier.

Each firewall may possess its own rules or settings. For instance, only one computer might be allowed to receive public FTP traffic and the others would only be allowed network access. The company can also block certain websites and files to keep access to the internet and the network limited.

Three Methods Firewalls Employ to Protect PC Security

There are three different methods that firewalls can use to help keep up your computer security:

1. Packet filtering – the firewall analyzes small chunks of data against filters. If the packet makes it through, it gets sent to the requesting system, and if it doesn’t then it is discarded.

2. Proxy service – the firewall obtains information from the internet and transmits it to the requesting system, and any outgoing information is retrieved by the firewall and sent to the internet.

3. Stateful inspection – this is similar to the packet filtering method, but alternatively looks at specific parts of the packet and compares it to trusted information. If information is being sent out of the firewall, then it is checked for certain characteristics, and incoming information is compared to these. If the two match up, the information is allowed through, if not it is discarded.

Customizing Your Firewall for Ultimate Computer Security

What makes firewalls so useful is the fact that they can be customized. IP addresses are one way that this can be done – if a certain IP address is reading too many company files, then the firewall can be set up to block all traffic from the specified IP address. Alternatively, domain names can be used in the same fashion, since IP addresses can change and be difficult to remember. So the company can choose to block certain domain names in efforts of overall computer security.

Another way that the firewall can protect PC security is through protocols, or the text that describes how the two ends will have their conversation. This allows the firewall to block IP, TCP, HTTP, SMTP, and other common protocols from accessing the computer. Often, only one or two computers may have access to a certain protocol, and it will be banned from all others. The firewall can also be used to block certain ports, preventing a certain type of server from being accessed except by allowed computers.

Lastly, a firewall can be set up to block specific words and phrases. This will cause the firewall to block anything that is given a certain keyword. The keyword has to be an exact match, but you can include as many words, phrases, and variations as you choose to. This type of filtering is often useful for blocking adult content from computers, particularly in the workplace or homes where children have access to the internet.

Many operating systems will have the firewall built in, but you can install your own if you do not like the factory standard application, or if one is not included. Installing a firewall is a needed step if you are serious about protecting your PC security from the outside world.

How to Check a Website’s Security

There are a large variety of things that you can do online. From downloading to shopping, to watching videos and playing games. But when it comes to website security, how do you know if a website is safe or if it contains malware, viruses of spyware? Here are some helpful tips that can keep you safe and secure while you browse the internet.

Website Name – Google It!

If you are unsure about a particular website’s security, one of the first things that you can do is to perform a search of the name of the website or the company that runs it. Look for reviews and feedback on the website, or even scams and malware that are linked to the website. If you are seeing a lot of negativity about a website, then it is a good idea to avoid doing business or downloading from that site.

Place Your Trust… in Trusted Resources

Many web browsers find relief by utilizing programs such as McAfee Site Advisor or MyWot.com. These services provide you with warning levels of each website, allowing you to see if others have had an issue with website security or have been infected with malware as a result of visiting the site. You should use caution with any website that comes up with a warning, as it could lead to your computer security being compromised.

Perform a “Who Is” Search to Determine Internet Security

Some resources on the internet will allow you to determine the website security of a site by looking at the “who is” records of the company. They will tell you information such as the registrar name, status, expiration date and more.

This information can provide you with additional information as to the credibility of the website. For example, if the website was just created recently it may not be as professional as one that has been around for much longer. Or, if the domain is set to expire soon, the website may not be as well maintained as other sites. So knowing who is in charge of the website and what they are doing is an important part of website security.

You can also use this information to get contact information on the owner of a website. Use this information to send them a brief email. A good website will have great support going all the time, meaning that you should get an answer to your question relatively quickly.

See What Others are Saying about Website Security

A great place to learn more information about a company is to check out forums and discussion boards for the specific topic. People are quite vocal about their opinions on the internet, so if a company has a bad reputation or has malware associated with it; you are going to hear about it.

Look for forums in a related topic and see what people are saying. On a more positive note, this can also be a good way to hear positive things about website security and the reputation of the company as well.

If you can’t find a thread or post about a particular website, that doesn’t mean that people don’t have an opinion. They may not have posted about it yet, or the post may have gotten buried in more current concerns. Try posting a thread of your own to see what sort of response you get about the website’s security.

Networks and Communities Share Internet Security Concerns as Well

Forums and discussion boards aren’t the only place to find information on website security. You can also check out other networks and communities that allow you to ask questions and get a response. These communities are set up to connect people with similar interests, so if you look for a community in your topic area there is sure to be someone who can give you more information about the website security of a given site.

Consider Trusted Organizations for Website Security

One last option that you have to consider website security is to go with trusted organizations that are known for keeping track of this information. For example, many people already know of the Better Business Bureau to check up on businesses, and the BBB also works with online retailers as well.

Many websites will post the seal of the organization that they are a member of. While this alone isn’t necessarily an indicator of website security, it does mean that you can check out reviews of that company online to see what others are saying.

Website security is a lot like security in real life – you must be aware of your surroundings and what is going on. The more aware you are of website security, the less likely it will be that malware will find a way onto your computer.

How to Protect Your PC Against a Virus

Computer viruses are crippling on any PC. A well-designed virus can have a devastating effect on a company or the person who downloads it, leading to billions of dollars in damages if it spreads far enough.

Viruses can be very hard to contain and can infect millions of computers in a single day, thus illustrating how connected (and vulnerable!) the world wide web has made each and every one of us.

Types of Computer Viruses

There are multiple types of viruses that can interfere with your computer security. Some of the most common viruses that you may encounter include:

  • Email viruses – these are a specialized form of computer virus that comes attached to an email. It can then mail itself to everyone in your address book. You may not even have to open the attachment to become infected by the virus, as some are designed to start infiltrating your computer’s security as soon as the infected message is read.
  • Trojan horses – this is a computer program that claims to perform one task but instead employs alternative actions resulting in damage to your computer or your files. It cannot replicate on its own and requires you to download and run it.
  • Viruses – this is a small piece of software that sneaks in along with another program, such as a spreadsheet. When the real program runs, then virus also runs, giving it the chance to do the damage it was programmed to do or reproduce and spread.
  • Worms – worms are a type of software that looks for security holes in computer networks, spreading from one computer to another if they have the same security hole. It can copy itself and then spread from the new computer to the next.

Where Viruses Come From

The term ‘computer virus’ comes from the fact that it spreads in a similar fashion to the biological variety. They can be passed from one computer to another much like the common cold virus is passed from one person to another. A virus cannot reproduce itself. A computer virus must come in on another program or document in order to be able to affect your computer.

People write computer viruses, test them, and then release them. The reasons why can vary. Some people get a thrill out of being destructive, much in how vandals destroy someone else’s property. Others like the thrill of watching things blow up; such as those who make their own bombs or who enjoy watching car wrecks. And others do it simply for the bragging rights, and see the creation of a virus as a challenge that must be met before someone else beats you to it. Most of the virus creators do not seem to realize or care about the people who are harmed by their creations.

The History and Evolution of Computer Viruses

Computer viruses first started to come out in the late 1980s, as the personal computer started to become more widely used. At this time computer bulletin boards were also becoming popular, allowing people to download different programs like games and simple software. This started the creation of the Trojan horse, a hostile program.

The earliest viruses were small, and were attached to popular games and programs. When the person ran the program, the virus would load itself, modifying additional programs to include its code, and then launched the real program. The user often didn’t even realize that the virus had run itself, and would spread it from one computer to the next when they shared programs and viruses. From there the virus would enter an attack phase, where they would do something destructive like cause your computer screen to light up with a silly message or erasing all of your data.

As computers evolved, so did viruses. As floppy disks fell out of favor, virus creators learned new tricks for spreading them. This led to the creation of email viruses, which were spread through email attachments and worms, which could copy themselves from one machine to another by taking advantage of a security hole.

Protecting Your Computer from Viruses

There are several ways that you can protect your computer’s security from viruses and other malware. A secure operating system is often the front line. Further to this method, you should install virus protection software to help prevent viruses from making their way onto your computer. You should also avoid downloads from unknown sources, as well as install computer updates on a regular basis. The more conscious you are of computer viruses, the easier it will be to protect yourself from them!

 

How to Use Data Encryption to Secure Your Computer Files

Data encryption is an important means of protecting your computer files. Essentially, encryption converts data into a form that prevents unauthorized people from accessing it. To decode encrypted data you use decryption technology to turn the encrypted data back into the original form.

History of Data Encryption

While data encryption and computer safety may be relatively new, data encryption on its own is not. Encryption and decryption have been used nearly as long as communication. For instance, in times of war communication transmissions were often written in a cipher to keep the enemy from discovering the orders of the troops.

Ciphers come in many forms, from switching around letters and numbers, to alternating letters with other ones, to even scrambling signals by using other frequencies. Some will even utilize complex algorithms to rearrange the information so that it cannot be deciphered by the enemy.

Once an encrypted signal has been sent out, the recipient has to decrypt it to view the data. A key is required to do this, which can be in the form of an algorithm. If someone who doesn’t have the key is trying to decrypt the information, a computer can be used to look for patterns that will allow them to break the cipher. The more complex the algorithm, the harder it is to decode.

Protecting Yourself with Encryption

If you handle any sensitive information on your computer, encryption is a must for you. You can purchase encryption technology that will do the work for you and this will greatly aid in your efforts of halting others from stealing your data.

It is specifically important to use date encryption if you do most of your work via laptop or other portable device. Besides the risks that are associated with transmitting data wirelessly, it is all too easy to have a laptop or other portable device stolen.

If your information is not encrypted on this device, then you have opened the door for the thief to access all of your stored information. Make sure that you store any algorithms or decryption keys in a secure location. Storing that information with the same computer or device that holds the encryption will also make it too easy for others to access the information.

There are two main types of full disk data encryption that you can use. There is the hardware form that is offered by the same company that creates the computer drive, and there is the software version that is sold as an option for laptops and other devices.

Drive-level encryption can be hard to manage, which is why stand alone data encryption software is gaining in popularity. BitLocker, McAfee Endpoint Encryption, and SafeGuard Easy are examples of such programs.

Keep in mind that if you hard drive fails, you’ll have no way to recover your data. Therefore, it is very important that you have a strict backup policy for any encrypted information. You also have to make sure that someone in your company has the ability to access the information even if an employee quits. Therefore, understanding the regulatory issues behind your software is a must.

Encryption prevents one person or transaction from ruining your business. Remember, all it takes is one small piece of confidential information escaping and you could have a disaster on your hands. Data encryption eliminates this possibility and allows you and your clients to feel more secure in your proceedings.

Wireless Communications and Data Encryption

With the advent of the wireless age, data encryption has become more important. Wireless communication is much easier to tap than other types of communication. So, if you are performing any sensitive transaction online, particularly if wireless is involved, you should look into data encryption to protect your information. Remember, the stronger the encryption the more computer safety you will have, but the more cost you will also incur.

The Controversy about Data Encryption

Strong encryption does come with some controversy, however. Strong encryption is any cipher that cannot be broken without the code. While many people view this as a way to keep their computer safe and minimize fraud, some governments are afraid of strong encryption falling into the wrong hands.

For example, terrorists could use strong encryption codes to plan their devious activities directly under the governments’ noses. For that reason, some governments are for setting up a key-escrow arrangement that would require all persons using ciphers to provide the government with the key. The idea would be that the key would be stored in a safe place and only used under court order; however opponents argue that these databases could be hacked by criminals who could then steal personal information.

How to Check Your PC’s Overall Security Setup

Most people who are concerned about internet safety want to know if they have enough computer security to safely access browse the world wide web. But just how much security is enough? How do you really know if you are protected?

Here is some information on setting up and testing your computer security to make sure that your personal information stays protected and personal.

Ways to set up your computer security

Here are some of the tools that you can utilize to help increase your internet safety and ensure that your data remains private:

  •  Anti-malware software – Since anti-virus software generally only deals with viruses, it is a good idea to protect your computer security from other malware by installing anti-malware software. These programs will look for worms, spyware, Trojan horses, and more. Some anti-virus software will also offer anti-malware tools, or you can download it separately.
  • Anti-virus software – A main component to computer security is having anti-virus software installed. This software helps protect your computer from accidentally downloading a virus in email attachments or other files. It can also help you isolate viruses that you already have and remove them before they can cause more damage. You can purchase anti-virus software online, or download a free program that you trust to upgrade your computer security.
  •  Firewall – If your operating system does not come with a firewall, then you should purchase one, and if it does then you should ensure that it is activated and configured with optimal settings. A firewall gives you added computer security when you access the internet. This is because malware can enter any of the many ports on your computer that allows information to pass back and forth, such as your email or when you access online games. A firewall helps to hide these ports, giving you more computer security from hackers who are searching for vulnerabilities. There are plenty of free firewalls that you can download online to use if you don’t have one already on your computer.
  • Patch your operating system regularly. Much of the malware that compromises computer security comes in by way of weaknesses and loopholes that hackers find in your operating system. The companies of these operating systems will regularly put out patches designed to strengthen weak spots as they are discovered. By downloading these patches regularly, you can make sure that your operating system is secure as possible. Often, you can set these downloads to be updated on a regular basis during a time when you are not using your computer, such as overnight.
  • Router – even if you only have one computer, a router can be a valuable tool. This is because a router creates a local area network for your private computer address, causing your computer system to appear as a single machine with a single address. This helps to hide your computers from prying eyes to give you added computer security. At the same time, the Network Address Translation that your router performs gives you a strong firewall to prevent malware from the internet coming on to your system. This firewall works with any type of computer system, so you can effectively boost your computer security.

Ensure That you Possess Adequate Computer Security

Once you have taken the above steps to protect your computer, you will want to make sure that you have adequate computer security to protect your information. This can be easily tested if you know how.

Start by installing your firewall, anti-virus software, and other aspects of your computer security and make sure that they are all functioning properly. Then, utilize any number of computer security test sites, such as http://www.gfi.com/emailsecuritytest/ , and run a test. This will give you a list of results of the test once completed. You will want to first check to see if your ports are shielded or stealthed so that they cannot be viewed from the Internet. This can help offer you more computer security from malware and hackers.

Another important facet to corner yourself with is web browser security. Similar to firewall and port testing, many websites will offer free browser security tests. These tests will look to see if your private information, such as passwords, are protected. Furthermore, tests will scan for a large variety of additional concerns, such as memory corruption, bait and switch conditions, arbitrary code execution and more.

With both of these tests completed, you will have more computer security when browsing the internet. However, you should still be on the lookout for signs of malware to help protect yourself and your computer.

PC Security 101: What Makes for a Solid Password?

Your computer password is imperative as it is designed to protect your personal information. Ideally, a password would prevent anyone but yourself to access your sensitive information. However, some passwords are easier to crack than others, and your computer security could be compromised if you are using a week password. Here’s a look at what makes a solid password and how you can create your own.

Solid passwords: Good vs. bad

Surprisingly, it is not hard to distinguish a good computer password from a bad one. Bad security passwords are the ones that can be easily guessed by another person or computer, whereas good passwords are difficult for someone else to decipher.

How to Create a Solid Password

There are many factors that you can incorporate into your password to give you optimum computer security. Things to consider:

  • Use an algorithm. An algorithm is essentially a procedure that will create a unique and personal password. For instance, you can think of a sentence that is easy to remember, and use the first letter of each word as the password. Or, come up with a trivia question and use the first two letters of the phrase as the password. Ideally, you should use upper and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and punctuation. These variations work well as passwords as they are easy to remember by you, yet appear totally random to computers.
  • Use an image. Do you have a CD or a book on your desk that is always there, or a picture hanging on your wall? You can use that to create a password on its own or using the image in conjunction with the above suggested algorithm technique. Avoid using words or names that appear directly in the image. If you are very concerned about computer security, choose an image that you can lock away in a desk drawer or carry with you in your wallet to prevent someone else from seeing it and guessing your password.
  • Use intentional misspellings. You can use your favorite words, but try spelling them phonetically instead of using the proper spelling. Throwing in hyphens or other random punctuation in the world will also increase the computer security that it offers without making the password significantly difficult to remember.
  • Make it nonsensical. A solid password doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you. Feel free to use a silly phrase that you can remember. You can also use the shift key when typing numbers, or make up your own jargon that only you will remember.
  • Use a password program. Another available option is to use a password manager program to create a computer security password as needed. The program automatically creates good passwords for you, and you do not even have to remember what they are. However, your password to enter the program should be something that you create on your own and be as solid as possible to prevent someone from hacking in and stealing all of your passwords.

Keeping a Solid Password Secure

It is highly recommend that you utilize multiple methods when coming up with security passwords. If you choose to use an algorithm, for example, do not use one that can easily be deciphered. If you do, and one account is hacked, your entire computer’s security could be in jeopardy. In fact, it is highly suggested that you do not implement the same algorithm techniques for all passwords. Remember to mix it up to keep the hackers guessing.

Keep in mind that different systems may have different limits – not all systems will allow for an alpha-numeric password or your computer security may not allow symbols. Shorten it or adjust it as needed for your system.

Ideally, a solid password should factor in the following:

  • A minimum of 7 characters.
  • Will not contain your account name, your full name, or other words that are easily guessed.
  • Will have at least three of the following: uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbol characters.

Once you have chosen a solid security password, make sure to protect it. Never write passwords down. Instead, write down a clue that will jog your memory. Keep all clues and other login information in a secure place at all times, and never give out your password information to anyone else. A solid password is only as secure as how you treat it – if you write it down on a post-it stuck to your computer, then it is easy for someone to come along and steal it, no matter how complicated it is.