Basic Personal Computer Security
If a person has something valuable, like money or jewelry, he or she would most likely put it in a safe or deposit it in the bank. Only a fool would stick it under a mattress and leave the doors unlocked. Yet this is the case with most computer users at home. They have valuable information, like bank accounts and social security numbers, stored on a personal computer without proper protection from theft or vandalism. A person can protect his home computer from online threats by using software that provides antivirus, spyware and identity theft protection.
A major threat to any computer user is a computer virus. Like the biological virus, a computer virus infects a computer with a range of “symptoms” that can be fatal to a system, such as deleted files, inappropriate images or even a computer crash. A computer virus can infect a computer by installing itself through opening emails, and or be visiting websites. However, sometimes a computer virus could be so brand new that just even connected to the internet, all it will take is turning the computer on and your computer is infected. As the virus spreads through the computer, it affects mostly software that is on that computer; computer viruses go after the operating system most of the time. If left untreated, a virus could even make your computer inoperable to the point that the user would need to reinstall the computer operating system and other software.
To protect a computer from viruses, a person should install anti-virus software. This program contains files that identify specific strings of code that indicate a virus on a computer. Anti-virus software updates itself almost weekly if not daily, because of how many new viruses come out on a daily basis. Antivirus software, though, is not always foolproof. Depending on the sophistication of the virus, it could take weeks for a way to disassemble the code, write the file to counteract the virus, and then erase the virus from a user’s computer. Therefore, computer users should also take these precautions at home: do make sure that the anti-virus software is set to receive and install updates daily, do not open attachments from unknown users, do not go to suspicious websites that ask for personal details, and only download from trusted software vendors. Though computer viruses remain the number one threat for computer users, with the proper software and good prevention it will block most of these viruses from infecting a computer.
Over the last few years, computer users are warned about the impact of spyware on computers, and yet most people do not heed these warnings and end up becoming a victim in some way. For a home user who puts his or her whole life on a computer, that computer could become a problem for that user if he or she doesn’t have some sort of spyware protection. As mention earlier, the role of spyware is to retrieve a person’s data without a person knowing it, and how that happens is like the same process of receiving a computer virus. All a user has to do is open email attachments, visit websites, or download software and spyware can be installed to that computer. Then as a person types away, that data is being sent to the creator of that software.
How does one going into protection his or her data from spyware? Easily enough that protection is already installed on that computer, since security suites come bundled with basic protection such as spyware and anti-virus. However, sometimes those security suites never fully protect a computer and so users need some added protection, such as Spybot whose main function is to look for it specifically. However, sometimes software, no matter how good it is, does not detect everything, and so a person needs to be more aware of what they are doing on that computer as they are on it. That is why spyware is one of the more complicated forms of computer attacks, but again it is all about prevention and having the proper software on your computer to keep your data and your personal information safe.
Identity theft is statistically the number one crime in the United States, because of the potential harm that identity theft will cause to someone once he or she becomes a victim of that theft. Criminals steal a user’s personal information in several ways; hacking into the computer, stealing your personal information through a bogus website with the help of a bogus email, and mentioned earlier using spyware to get into your computer. Guarding one’s data is a bit complicated, because people have to rely on the security of other computers that store their information and the people who maintain those computers.
On the user’s end of prevention, following the same steps previously mentioned in spyware, he or she must make sure any private data he or she has secures that data by using complex passwords or locking the computer down to the desk. Nonetheless, the user’s data is always out in the open. However, they can prevent it from being seen by others and not take years to recover from the damage that has been done to their names. By using software that provides antivirus, spyware, and identity theft protection, a person can protect his or her home computer from online threats. Valuable information, like credit card and social security numbers, which are stored on a personal computer, is protected from theft or vandalism by cyber criminals. In today’s world, information is as valuable as money or jewelry and a home computer needs to be as safe as a bank deposit box.