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PC Tips

PC Security Tips



PCSecurityTips


Contents :-



General tips


Online identity theft is on the rise, with billions of dollars of losses now reported each year. Because “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, taking certain precautions can help you stay safe.

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Here are some easy things you can do to protect yourself online:

Never use the same user id you use for email or internet logon for anything else

• Using separate user id's for important accounts will help minimize the security risk in the event someone gets hold of your credentials.

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Never use your email password for anything else.

• By keeping a separate and distinct password for your email account, you will help prevent unauthorized access to your email.

sure all passwords are difficult to “guess”

• As a rule of thumb, use a minimum of 8 characters. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters and at least one number or special character. Safeguard your user id’s and passwords just as you would your bank account information and PIN number.

Never click on links in emails, particularly from banks and credit card companies that you have an account with

• Open up a web browser, key in the website address and then log in. Cyber-thieves routinely send emails that look like legitimate correspondence from your bank. The links they give you normally take you to a copy of a legitimate website – this is called ”phishing”. Inputting your account information onto these fraudulent websites will allow thieves to gain access to your real account – this part of the scam is called ”pharming”.

Unless absolutely necessary, never download and install freeware

• If you do download free software, only download from developer’s “official” site. Many copycat sites exist that are fraudulent – especially those offering a free virus scan or spyware scan. Downloading software or allowing your PC to be “scanned” by an unofficial website will most certainly install spyware on your system.

Use parental control software if children use the computer

• This will prevent access to questionable websites where spyware can secretly be installed. It will also help protect youngsters from online predators. Many internet security suites include parental control software. If you have kids who use the internet, it’s a good idea to have this extra layer of protection.

Be sure you are using the most current version of web browser , and check to be sure its security settings are set as high as you can stand it.

• This will ensure that you are not surfing the net with an insecure browser and will prevent many sites from installing certain types of spyware and adware on your PC.

Never click on pop up ads as this can install spy ware on your system

• One click is all it takes to have spyware secretly installed. Many pop up advertisements will take you to unscrupulous websites where your security could be at risk.

Avoid browsing to questionable websites

• Sites that contain illegal, immoral or lewd content are often havens for spyware. Simply viewing some of these sites is all it takes to infest your computer with spyware.

Use a Computer Security Suite, and set it to automatically download and install updates

• Also known as an Internet Security Suite, this software is a must have for every computer that accesses the internet. It will protect you from dangerous viruses, spyware, phishing emails and intruders.


Internet Security


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Use Antivirus, Anti Spyware, and a Personal Firewall

• The first thing you should do to protect yourself from online security threats is to get a good antivirus program, as well as anti spyware software, and a personal firewall. These products act as your personal watchdog; constantly scanning your system for known patterns of suspicious file activity and stopping the “bad stuff” before it has a chance to do any damage. The easiest and most affordable thing to do is to purchase an internet security suite. This is a “bundled” package of specialized computer security software that is designed to work together to provide a “blanket of protection”.

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Keep Your Operating System and all Applications Up to Date

• Use Microsoft Windows "Automatic Update Service" to ensure you have the latest hot fixes, security patches, and service packs. These updates are designed to counter the effects of the latest security threats by closing newly discovered security "holes" and adding protective enhancements to your operating system. Windows Update will also keep your Internet Explorer web browser up to date.
• It's important to keep all program applications such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Real Player, Flash Player, iTunes, etc... up to date as well. Hackers and cyber-criminals often find and exploit security holes in applications, and use this as a way to get into your computer. Go to the developers website on a regular basis and download the latest updates to the software you are running. Most new versions of software include an "auto update" feature that you can turn on to make this an automatic process.

Never Download Free Screensavers, Games, or Other "Freeware" Applications

• Free software is notorious for carrying invasive adware and dangerous spyware that can cripple your system or steal personal information. If you must download free software, be sure to read the EULA (user license agreement) carefully. This will often tell you that by installing the software, you are agreeing to install other applications that deliver advertising (this is adware). If you don't want this additional advertising software installed, don't install the software. Adware and spyware is often difficult to remove, so be careful what you download and install.

Never Open Email From People You Don't Know

• Un-requested, unsolicited bulk email is called Spam, and usually contains advertisements for illegal or unsavory products/services. A lot of spam now contains dangerous phishing scams, which tricks you into going to fraudulent websites where spyware might be installed without your knowledge. Many links in phishing emails also take you to fraudulent sites that are "carbon copies" of legitimate financial institutions. Attempting to log on to these sites will send your credentials to the spammer, who will quickly wipe out your account.

Backup Your Data on a Regular Basis

• Hard drives crash every day, with little warning. A computer virus can quickly corrupt your operating system or damage all your files. Spyware can cripple a computer so badly that the only way to restore functionality is to reformat the hard drive. Important files can accidentally be deleted. These are all good reasons to keep a current backup copy of all your files. When disaster strikes (and it will eventually), you can still have access to family photos, term papers, and other work if you have a copy on CD or a second hard disk. An easy, inexpensive way to ensure you never lost your files is to use an online backup service.


Safely Emailing


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Email was originally designed to enable academics and scientists to communicate with one another. And because it was created with the thought that only trusted individuals would send files back and forth, email's security weaknesses were never a concern while the technology was being developed. Unfortunately, spammers and hackers came along with the popularity of email, but by then the technology was far too popular to redesign. As a result of its inherent security weaknesses, it is very important to take the necessary steps to strengthen your email security through add-on protections and by tailoring the way you use your email.

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1. Use a first-rate email client

Just because all email clients deliver your email, does not mean they are equally effective when it comes to PC security. An effective email client should provide your computer with another layer of protection by effectively filtering out all the unwanted email messages bound for your inbox, as well as providing some basic email attachment virus scanning.

Suggestions:

• Google Mail (GMail) is one of the best web-based email clients, providing you with top of the line spam filtering that will keep your inbox free of almost all unwanted messages. Unfortunately, however, its virus scanning capabilities leave a lot to be desired, so you'll want to manually scan all email attachments using your personal virus scanner before you download.
• Mozilla's Thunderbird is a highly regarded, award winning, spam-fighting standalone email client. Thunderbird has to be configured for a POP or IMAP based email server just like Microsoft Outlook. But once you setup Thunderbird, you'll be well on your way to keeping your inbox free of spam.

2. Handle email attachments carefully

When you download an attachment, your computer presumes that you know what you're doing. Consequently, your firewall won't check the attachment to make sure that its safe, which leaves just a cursory scan by your email client as the only protection between an attachment and your computer. Given the low level of security surrounding attachments, it's no surprise that hackers often try to hide their harmful programs in spam email attachments. In fact, an estimated 90% of viruses enter computers this way. Given those stats, it is important to always follow best practices when handling all email attachments in your Inbox.

Suggestions:

• Do not open attachments from strangers, or even from well-known companies, no matter how official or familiar the email appears to be. Spammers often use very creative techniques to make their emails and their attachments look legitimate, and they are getting increasingly good at it. So simply closely examining emails with attachments before downloading is no longer a sufficient security strategy. Instead, you should adopt a strict no attachment policy from strangers or companies, and go to the company website directly to get the needed information instead.

• If a friend's computer is infected, it's possible that you'll receive email with virus-infected attachments that appears to be (or actually is) from them. Thus, a familiar sender alone is not enough to ensure that an attachment is safe. If you're not expecting an attachment, call, IM or VoIP the person to verify that they intended to send it before you open the attachment.

3. Do not click on email links haphazardly

A common phishing scam technique is to imbed a link in an authentic-looking but fake email message which leads to a malicious website. These email messages usually try to trick people into clicking on the link and giving up personal information in order to supposedly "confirm their financial information" or even just to "unsubscribe" from a newsletter they never signed up for in the first place. Another variant on this same scheme simply installs a virus on your computer after you click on the link via a technique called drive-by downloading. But whatever the specific harm inflicted, the point is simply that embedded links in emails can pose an enormous PC security risk.

Suggestions:

• Do not click on links in questionable emails. Reputable companies might send an email saying there's a problem with your account, but they'll never include a link "for your convenience" proclaiming to have lost all of your data.
• Even if you personally follow email best practices, family members using shared email accounts may still unwittingly click on malicious links and infect your computer. Consequently, you may want to disable "HTML email" so that embedded links in emails no longer function, as well as educate family members on some of the most common techniques scammers and hackers use.

4. Set up email filters

Reputable Internet Service Providers (ISP's) are all currently developing effective spam filtering in order to minimize the amount of spam that reaches your email client. And just as that extra level of filtering helps to reduce the levels of spam that reach your inbox, so too you can add your own supplemental filtering level by setting up your own personal email filters. While your ISP filter and email client filter will together dramatically limit the amount of spam that gets through, it is only by adding a manual filtering component through custom filtering that you can achieve near zero spam levels.

Suggestions:

• Start with an effective email client and add custom filters. GMail allows you to create a number of email aliases that all connect to your existing email address, which will allow you to divide up incoming emails into folders dependent upon the particular variant the email was sent to. So, whenever you sign up for a new newsletter, you can use a new variant on the email. If a newsletter ends up selling your name to spammers, you can simply block that email variant and voila, you have stopped the flow of spam and identified which newsletter is secretly selling readers' contact information to the highest bidder.

• If you don't have access to email aliases, you can accomplish exactly the same thing by setting up multiple free email accounts and designating one specifically for newsletter signups. If you don't want to keep up with all those email accounts, you can even use a self-destructing email account such as 10minutemail which will allow you to confirm your subscription to a newsletter or service, but which won't put your real email in danger of picking up spam.


Protecting Your Password


You would never consider setting the combination of your family safe to something as simple as, "1 … 2 … 3." But even though computer and internet passwords provide access to far more money than your home safe, many people set themselves up to get hacked when they select passwords that are far too simple or that are changed too infrequently.

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1. Keep hackers guessing

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• Use strong passwords of at least 7 characters long, with a mix lower and uppercase letters and digits. Example: AxV37TtP0.
• Never use common words or names in your password. In fact, making up new words is an effective way to keep hackers from guessing your password.
• Change your passwords regularly. No matter how closely you guard your password, it will eventually become compromised. By changing your password regularly, however, you can ensure that by the time a hacker gets a hold of your password you've already changed it.

2. Use a variety of different passwords

It is human nature for people to feel comfortable with a particular username and password, and to keep using it over and over. Because hackers know this, they often target less secured sites in order to harvest usernames and passwords, with the knowledge that those same username and password combinations are likely to work at more secured (and more valuable) sites such as online banks.

Suggestions:

• Use different passwords and usernames for all web-based applications. If you are overwhelmed by the thought of having to remember a dozen different passwords, come up with a system for numerically organizing passwords so that even if you forget a password you'll be able to quickly guess it later by comparing it with those of your passwords that you do remember.
• Be creative with your usernames. Almost everyone uses some combination of first initial/ last name, so a hacker can simply presume that in any database there is a JSmith, a JSmith1, and so on. Make sure that your username isn't something that can be easily guessed.

3. Password protect your computer login access

While many people are willing to set up complex passwords for online services, they often resist doing so to protect physical access to their computer. The truth is, however, almost every computer is in danger of being accessed by individuals who don't have authorization to do so. From your own children, to the maid that cleans your house while you're at work, the person accessing your computer does not have to intend to harm you or your computer to accidentally do so, so everyone needs a strong password for physical computer access.

Suggestions:

• Not only add a password to your personal profile, but also to any guest accounts. Again, you aren't just concerned with someone maliciously attempting to harm your computer, often the biggest danger is from inexperienced internet users who are just curious.
• Use a screen saver with password protection. It is all well and good to password protect your windows logins, but if you're like most people, your computer is often left idle rather than being shut down immediately after you're done using it. So eliminate this vulnerability by setting up a password protected screen saver to start up if your computer is left in idle mode for more than a few minutes.
• Consider creating a desktop shortcut to lock down your computer if you're the type of person who will forget to secure things if it isn't simple and convenient to do so.


Physical Protection


1. Disguise your laptop

Look around: you've likely seen people carrying obvious laptop bags, though there's no rule that says you have to. Alternative carry bags reduce the chance that someone will try to grab your laptop at an airport or elsewhere. In the same way that you hide your CD case or iPod before you get out of your car, by disguising your laptop you reduce the total pool of potential thieves, and thus lower the chances of having your computer physically stolen.

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Suggestions:

• Make sure the alternative bag is water-resistant and padded.
• A convenient alternative to the laptop case is a messenger bag, but you might also try an army surplus bag, or if you're feeling really adventurous, a pizza box. If a lack of aesthetic appeal doesn't bother you, making your new bag look weathered and dirty (while the laptop is out of the bag of course!) further reduces the likelihood of theft.
• If you've got the cash, Boblbee offers a great multi-purpose hard-shell backpack that will keep your computer safe without immediately signaling what you're carrying. One model, the Megalopolis, is specifically designed to hold and hide a laptop as well as protect it from the occasional fall.

2. Use anti-theft solutions

Planning to use your laptop in a public place such as a library or bookstore cafe? Worried that it might get swiped if you leave it unattended for a moment? Good, you should be. Thankfully, there are a couple steps you can take to minimize the risk of this occurring, and to improve the chances of computer recovery if it does.

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Suggestions:

• One technique that serves as both a deterrent and a recovery tool is to get STOP's Security Plate, which leaves a permanent tattoo on your laptop to indicate that the device is traceable by police in case of theft.
• Another creative security measure is to install tracking software so that if stolen, your laptop will secretly transmit its location to a control center as soon as the thief accesses the internet.


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