Wednesday, February 15, 2006

 

Hijacked at Home - Five Steps to Protect Your Home PC

Before you open those email attachments from an unknown source, insert a disc into your hard drive, or download any software from a new website that you’ve only just discovered, stop! You could be inviting a virus into your computer. It may sound a bit paranoid, but wouldn’t it be better to be a little paranoid than careless? Everyday the threat of a new computer crippling virus becomes more real to people everyday as they become victims. According to the International Computer Security Association (ICSA), which is an organization that monitors computer virus activity, over 20,000 computer virus strains are currently in circulation. The ICSA also assesses that at least 10 to 25 new viruses are detected everyday.

Viruses are no longer the thing of the past where they can only be passed on through one floppy disk to another. In a day and age of email and the internet, viruses are circulating even faster. Now almost every program, document or file can carry a virus. The virus can come in the form of an email from an unknown source or from an unknowing friend or acquaintance. Not only can these viruses breech your security and make all your private information public, you can loose data and even crash your hard drive. This can cost you a small fortune to repair, or even replace your computer, and it could cost you valuable time.

Most computer owners have very important and sometimes even personal information stored on their computer and that would be a terrible thing to lose. Without the proper security, your computer is open to hackers and hijackers all over the world. Why take this risk when it can be easily avoided? Avoid being hijacked at home; follow these five steps to help protect your home PC:
1. Install a firewall. If you own and operate a computer, you need a firewall. This is one of the best methods to help protect your computer from intruders. Firewalls are used to help prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to your computer. They are very difficult for hackers to understand, thus a very good security measure. You can both purchase firewalls or find them for free through the internet. Regardless of whether you choose to purchase a firewall or obtain a free one, this is a very important security measure.

2. Download anti-virus software. This is definitely a must have. Anti-virus software is developed to scan your computer and search for viruses that can be infecting your computer. This software will find all of the viruses or infected files and permanently delete them from your computer to restore your computers vitality. There is a large variety of anti-virus software manufacturers available from which to pick and choose. It would be best to choose the more popular brands such as Norton Anti-Virus, McAfee Virus Scan, Symantec Anti-Virus, etc.

3. Install any and all security patches. When you receive an email from the vendor or merchant you had obtained your security software from, open it immediately. The email may contain vital information you need to help protect your computer. Once you receive an email stating you need to apply a security patch, you should do so immediately.

4. Update your software on a regular basis. Make sure you have the latest security software installed in your computer. Some software has weekly or monthly updates that should be done as they are offered. New viruses are detected every day and therefore you need to keep your security software updated on a regular basis in order to stay ahead of those threats.

5. Never open any emails from people or places you don’t know and never download any attachments. These emails can seem so innocent and friendly, but that’s exactly how they get you. A popular virus came from an email sent with the subject line “Someone wants to kiss you.” when an unsuspecting user opens this email thinking it’s coming from a companion, they become infected with a virus that begins circulating through their entire computer system. Never insert a disc into your hard drive if you don’t know what it is or who sent it. Last but not least, never download any software from a new website or any website that you don’t know.

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