Bad Guys are Everywhere: The Basics of Computer and Network Security

Bad guys are everywhere. So let’s talk about the basics of computer security.  There are a few primary objectives with computer security: to protect assets and information from any sources that would seek to compromise the computer or the network.  Security should be addressed from the network, computer, and application levels.  The enemies are many, and there are a few things that you should be paying attention to.

Authentication is the first step toward network security.  Authentication is the utilization of a username and password by all authorized users of a system to ensure that who gains access is controlled.  Make sure that passwords are not easy to decipher and are not shared with others.  Where possible create passwords either using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters and/or by making them longer than eight characters.

Layered security focuses on security points, filtering, and monitoring to defend the system.  A layered approach will help to protect personal and financial information from theft and your computer and network from damage.  Ensuring that solutions are integrated as a part of a comprehensive security strategy will help to prevent vulnerabilities or weaknesses in an attack.

First, a firewall should monitor what is coming in and out of your system.  It adheres to the policies of the company in terms of what can be accessed from a given computer.  Firewalls stand against attack and intrusion.

Using updated software also decreases vulnerabilities.  All software has vulnerabilities.  Developers are aware of this and are continually trying to release updates to stay ahead of the bad guys exploiting them.  Make sure you update software as you become aware of new releases.

Antivirus software should be installed to regularly scan your computer(s) for malicious files.  Antivirus software can search for various types of malicious software, also known as malware.  Antivirus software can also approach this from various angles, including looking for known code patterns and/or variations in these codes.  Some antivirus software can also operate a file in a sandbox to test it for malicious intent.

Similarly, spyware is used to monitor the activities of a computer’s user and gather personal information without them knowing about it.  Anti-spyware programs can protect you from software intended to determine your browsing habits or keyloggers that can record passwords and login information for financial and other personal accounts.

In general, you should have malware protection software that protects your computer(s) from viruses, spyware, and other forms of malicious code.

So remember: bad guys are everywhere. Sometimes they’re in other countries… sometimes they’re well-organized and have sophisticated operations… sometimes they’re clocking into a job, logging into a computer for 8 hours day just to bring about evil purposes.  It doesn’t matter if they’re after your habits, your money, or your identity or to severely disrupt your business… whatever it is, it most likely has great value to you and should be fully protected.  If you’re not making your computer and network security a top priority, who will?

If you have questions or need assistance with computer and network security, please contact the helpful staff at Halo Information Systems.

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