Computer Security

Computer security risks have become a topic of interest to people who use and rely on computers for various reasons. We use computers at home and in our businesses. We use them to access the Internet, create documents, send and receive e-mails, chat, and play games to name a few. As computers become lighter, more compact and portable, they have also become more vulnerable to damage, loss, theft and security risks. The Internet has also greatly contributed to the increased Internet identity theft risks. In fact, identity theft risks and cases have drastically increased since the Internet was introduced in our daily lives. Ever since the Internet introduction to the greater society, the public has embraced and trusted the web that connects computers to each other. We are just now realizing how dangerous these computers can be if we trust them blindly and ignore computer security risks. To illustrate how naive we can sometimes be, here is a story which might be somewhat amusing. An employee was once asked "how does the computer reach a certain conclusion?", and he very seriously replied "the computer knows". The employee was asked again, "how does it know" and again he replied "it just knows" as if the computer had a mind of its own, which it does in a sense. Read the article for more details. People tend to trust computers blindly as if they were self created. People forget that humans developed computers and that we continue to make them smarter and faster. People also forget that all viruses, spams and phishing scams are also developed by fellow humans. Why? Who knows. Maybe, we just need to prove to ourselves and others that we can be more creative. Or maybe, we need to create the malicious programs to create additional computer security risks for which we can then develop solutions and products to sell to our fellow humans. That being said and for whatever reasons, humans will continue to create smarter computers as well as more malicious programs, and as computer programs get smarter, the stakes get higher. We need to accept, and recognize the risks as they become known, and try to manage these computer security risks and prevent the loss or theft of our personal information to the best of our individual and collective ability. People are also getting smarter about the computers and the Internet security risks. They increasingly understand how these risks contribute to the identity theft problem. If you are interested in managing your computer security risks, please watch this short video and then read the suggestions listed below:

Computer Security Tips

1- Limit storage of personal information on your computer at home or your business.

2- After you file your taxes using your computer and a third party software like Turbo Tax, print a copy for your records and remove the file from your computer.

3- Password management practices must include strategies for maximum password protection and computer security. Such strategies suggest using unique, easy-to-remember and hard-to-guess passwords. More on password protection.

4- Assign a password to each user of the same computer to limit access to sensitive areas. Additional security tips.

5- Don’t take the computer around to public areas, vacations or business trips if you don’t have to. When and if you do, make sure the computer is in your possession at all times. For example, when you take your computer to a café, make sure you have someone you trust watch over your computer if you have to go to the bathroom.

6- Don’t leave the computer in your car. See the car security section for additional tips.

7- Don’t dispose of your computer without first making sure that all sensitive contents are cleared from the computer.

8- Don’t share your personal computer with others.

9- If you have to use your computer for storing personal and financial information, then avoid using that same computer to connect to the internet.

10- Install anti-virus software and update it regularly as updates become available. Computer viruses can destroy a computer and its data and worms can lead to information theft and email spoofing.

11- Use a personal firewall on your laptop. Although some operating systems come with a personal firewall, you should use a good third-party personal firewall to secure your computer and prevent intruders from hacking back your system. This software is usually inexpensive and easy to install.

12- Apply patches to the operating systems as they become available. This could be done automatically by certain operating systems.

13- Use software to encrypt your sensitive files and improve your computer security controls, so even if the computer is stolen, the stored information would be useless.

14- Have a plan to prevent laptop theft or loss, protect your mobile device and deal with its theft or loss when it occurs. More on laptop security in this page.

15- Develop, communicate, enforce and monitor a computer security policy for your business (or your family).

16- Educate your employees, family members, friends, agents, accountants, attorneys and others with whom you do business or allow handling of your sensitive information. Make sure every one is aware of the identity theft risks and how they can help deter this threat. You can find a few words about identity theft awareness here.

17- Recognize and delete without opening spam e-mails which are junk, unwanted, and unsolicited e-mails potentially containing malicious programs and information. Learn why spam is dangerous and what to do about them.

18- Create and use your online accounts carefully. Learn to better manage the online accounts.

19- Phishing is one of the latest internet scams to lure victims into giving away their personal information. Don't fall victim to phishing scams. You may also want to learn about spear phishing or read about a real phishing case.

20- When accessing the Internet especially for online banking and bill payment, always attempt to use trusted computers such as your office or home computer. When using public computers for highly sensitive transactions, consider the trust level you have with the facility providing Internet access. There are public computers that are more trustworthy than others and as such may not have spyware and predatory eyes to spy on your passwords and gain unauthorized access to your accounts and other sensitive information. For example, a library computer or a professional association computer is less likely to have malicious software or have predatory cameras than an Internet café you just discovered while traveling. Learn more about trusted computer.

21- We must seriously think about our computer privacy as we increasingly continue to use our computers in public places.

22- Back up your important files on a regular basis to recover them in case they are lost or damaged. Read about 3 ways to protect your documents.

23- Beware of the latest computer malware and your options to protect yourself. Malware is short for "malicious software". Learn more.

24- Fake websites are increasingly used to steal personal information such as account information and consumers are encouraged to be extra cautions about fake emails and website links. Learn more.

25- Remote smartphone security is more important these days as people store a ton of business and personal information on their cell phones which can be lost and stolen. Learn about remote smartphone security.

26- As we explore a personal file backup and security strategy, we have to determine where our personal devices are and what specific files they contain. Have a personal file backup and security strategy.

27- Online data storage risks are risks which most people who leverage online storage services to manage other risks must be aware of and manage. Learn about advantages and risks of online storage.

28- An email account takeover is not unusual whereby hackers and spammers take over account information and spam contacts listed in the accounts with unauthorized emails. Learn about hacked email account solutions.

29- Consider stronger access controls. Passwords are still widely used worldwide but password death is imminent as advanced authentication techniques such as digital badges and biometric authentication slowly replace passwords. Learn more.

Visit a list of computer security videos on YouTube.