Keeping a computer or home network secure can seem like a difficult or complicated thing to do. To maintain a secure computer and home network the following one should learn about virus scanners, firewalls and data encryption. If one chooses they could introduce an adware or spyware scanner as well. With the ever growing footprint of internet using households, educating yourself in computer security and online safety now will allow you to keep you, your data and your family safe. The first step in maintaining a secure computer network and secure data is to know what you are trying to accomplish. Maintaining computer security has no real end and to maintain online safety the computer owner must remain vigilant about applying updates to software packages installed on the system and applying updates to the system itself. Staying updated is the first step in maintaining a secure system and a very important part of the online safety equation. To keep your computer updated one can enable automatic Windows Updates. This simple task cannot be stressed enough, maintaining an updated network or computer is one of the key ingredients in protecting your family online.
After you have the management of updates figured out you need to implement a virus scanning solution. There are a number of free virus scanners available to the public and using one of them is highly recommended. If you download a lot of files I cannot emphasize the importance of virus detection software enough. Virus detection software typically has an automatic scanner that runs every time a file is added to your computer system, sometimes this is referred to as the filesystem. If the virus scanner detects that a downloaded file or a file that has been added to the filesystem contains a virus the virus scanner can delete the file so it does not have any chance to harm your computer. A good virus scanner is an important part of any personal computer security plan. Be aware that scanning for viruses while using your computer can make your system seem slower than normal. When you have implemented a virus scanning solution and know how to use it effectively one should install a software firewall.
Software firewalls have been around for more than ten years now and their rise in popularity is largely due to their effectiveness. How effective a firewall is relies more on the user than on the vendor in most cases. To implement a firewall effectively you need to be aware of how you and your family use the system. A firewall can block normal internet use if configured incorrectly so it is important that you know what your internet use patterns are. For example, if I implement a firewall software solution to increase the security of my home PC then I would make sure that my web browser, iTunes, my email client and PC games could connect to other computers on the internet by allowing their traffic through my firewall. Different firewalls have different methods of allowing internet access to your computer applications so as I said before, it is important to know how the firewall works by reading the manual and it is equally important to know your family’s internet usage patterns.
These three steps will go a long way in helping you implement a plan for increased internet security and online safety but remember that there is no silver bullet, you must run virus scans regularly, update your software and computer and use a firewall but even if you use follow these instructions you can still be taken advantage of online if you are not careful. The final four recommendations I have for staying safe online are:
1: Never click on links from people you do not know.
2: Do not open email attachments from people you do not know.
3: Do not install applications that you do not already know about or that you have never used without consulting with a computer professional first.
4: Never give passwords or other personal information over email, to anyone, even your closest friends. Emails can be read as they are sent from one computer to another using what is called “packet capturing” software. So never give passwords over email. Use the phone instead.
By following these simple suggestions, you are well on your way to increasing the online safety of you and your family! Have fun online and visit Online Safety Today for more tips on staying safe and secure online!