Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Steps for Computer Security

A report today on the BBC noted that many small businesses don't take adequate precautions to make certain that their computers were safe and secure: Small firms fail security checks

What steps do you take?

Do you use passwords? Make certain that you have the most up-to-date virus definitions for your anti-virus software? Do you even have antivirus software? Do you scan your system regularly? Do you scan attachments in emails before you open them?

Do you make backups of your data on a regular basis? Remember, software can always be reinstalled, but once your data disappears, it may be impossible to retrieve it.

If you're connected via broadband, you may not want to keep your computers on when they aren't in use. That connection to the web is a bit of a security risk.

Software patches aren't uncommon, especially from operating systems manuafacturers. Check regularly for security warnings, and updates and patches from those manufacturers.

I'm fond of Zone Laboratories Zone Alarm. It's a software firewall program, which can help you avoid intruders on your computer. If you connect to the web, seriously think about a firewall program like that.

Emails? Set your reader to read them as text rather than html. Shut off preview panes in email readers. Don't open attachments on emails from people you don't know. Don't open attachments from people you do know unless you've been expecting the attachment. If you do receive one, check with the person first to make certain that they sent it.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology have plenty of other ideas and suggestions listed in their Computer Secutiry Division pages, such as encryption for communication, and security for local area networks.