Checking Computer Security

Checking Computer Security
Many people wonder whether or​ not their computer is​ secure .​
They fear that someone might be looking through their files,​ copying,​ altering,​ or​ erasing them .​
They are uneasy about the​ thought that someone might be monitoring their every move in​ cyberspace .​
These concerns come to​ mind when reminded of​ the​ problem of​ hackers,​ viruses,​ and other security risks that abound in​ the​ Internet .​
Fortunately it’s easy to​ prevent these problems by following a​ few simple tips.
Perhaps the​ most important step for computer security is​ to​ keep it​ updated .​
Install the​ latest critical updates and service packs from Microsoft's download center .​
This is​ made easy by configuring the​ system to​ utilize Automatic Updates,​ if​ available .​
If not,​ updates can be downloaded directly from Microsoft's download center .​
Currently,​ Service Pack 2 (SP2) is​ the​ most current Service Pack for Windows XP.
The easiest way to​ increase the​ security level of​ a​ computer is​ by using a​ firewall .​
Firewalls monitor all activity that occurs on​ a​ connection between one or​ more computers .​
They act as​ a​ wall with one or​ more computers on​ one side,​ and one or​ more computers (usually the​ Internet) on​ the​ other .​
Information transfer by suspicious programs are immediately cut off,​ preventing them from entering the​ protected side of​ the​ firewall .​
This way denying access to​ anything coming from unauthorized and unknown sources prevents possible infection by viruses,​ worms,​ and other malicious codes.
Anti-Virus and Anti Spy-ware
Even if​ a​ computer is​ protected by a​ firewall it​ is​ still necessary to​ use anti-virus and anti spy-ware .​
This is​ because a​ firewall only prevents unauthorized outside access,​ and cannot distinguish between malicious and benign access .​
It is​ still possible to​ inadvertently make a​ request for information that is​ harmful,​ which the​ firewall views as​ an​ authorized transfer .​
Anti-virus and anti spy-ware provides another layer of​ armor for a​ computer,​ making it​ harder for hackers and their malicious programs to​ penetrate and control a​ computer .​
Some well-known anti-virus programs include Norton,​ Trend Micro PC-cillin,​ and McAffee .​
Anti spy-ware programs are also important as​ they reduce the​ chances of​ spy-ware getting into a​ computer .​
Spy-ware behaves differently than viruses,​ making it​ necessary to​ use different programs to​ catch it .​
Spy-ware can monitor any activity a​ computer infected with it​ performs,​ or​ even act as​ a​ gateway to​ download additional spy-ware or​ viruses .​
Hackers typically use spy-ware to​ obtain important information that must remain confidential like credit card numbers,​ social security numbers,​ and police records.
Protect Home Networks
It is​ possible for a​ computer owner to​ be unaware they are using a​ network at​ home .​
If more than one computer shares the​ same Internet connection or​ if​ wireless Internet access is​ being used,​ a​ home network is​ present .​
Securing a​ single computer is​ not much use if​ it​ is​ part of​ a​ network .​
The whole network must be protected as​ well to​ prevent malicious software from simply hopping from computer to​ computer to​ avoid attack .​
Different kinds of​ home networks face different kinds of​ risks .​
In the​ case of​ a​ wireless connection,​ anyone within the​ broadcast range of​ the​ network may be able to​ look at​ any data contained within the​ network.
Most networking devices employ their own security mechanisms .​
Using this in​ combination with security defenses installed on​ each computer's should provide enough protection to​ thwart attempts from hackers to​ hi-jack the​ network and use the​ computers connected to​ it .​
Most routers function as​ Network Address Translators (NAT) which makes them a​ safe connection to​ the​ Internet.
While no measure can guarantee total immunity from attack,​ these steps should increase the​ security of​ a​ computer or​ network enough to​ protect against any typical attack.

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