computer security tips

Many of you all know that I am in the Information Technology field. Those of you who know what this field may include, I am glad, since I really don’t know all of the things IT includes anymore. Nevertheless, we are inundated with technology and we are supposed to know how things should work. Companies that are not primarily technology companies invest SO much time and money in technology research it is mind-bloggling, curiously, it seems that little money is invested in technology security.

This is a topic of interest for me. With more and more information available on the internet, and at the rapid speed technology is introduced I think companies have neglected to educate people about computer security. Basically there are two types of people I regularly encounter. Some of you probably fit into the category of living in online bliss, mostly ignoring computer security altogther. Others of you probably fear all things related to computers, and those in this category probably are fearful of dealing with any critical or financial information online.

If I can communicate one thing to you before you get bored and stop reading, if you’re going to fit into one of these categories, the safest one is the latter. If you don’t have enough time to care, then, don’t do anything of critical importance, especially related to finances, online. Now you should understand that I believe that internet can be leveraged for a plethora of things which are supposed to make your life easier, and I think you should have the same peace of mind I enjoy when it comes to using technology…

Don’t make yourself an easy target!

So for those interested, let me offer some basic computer security tips.

  1. Physical Security. This one of the fundamental things many well intentioned people fail in. You really should limit the access to your devices, especially PDAs, phones, and notebook computers. If you’re like most PDA or notebook owners, you store crucial information on these devices. You really should know where your devices are. They should not be left in hotel rooms or unlocked drawers at work. Also, since these things can be easily stolen, you should have some password protection on these devices.
  2. Antivirus Protection. Having good etiquette about online security but not having antivirus protection is like having the best life jacket in a ship that is sinking. You may survive but you’ll get wet. You should always have updated virus definitions on your computer. It is a nuisance, but you should make sure to keep up with your subscriptions.
  3. IDs. If you’re like most people, you use the same password for everything. The alternative is to have different passwords for everything and then that usually causes a lot of people to store their passwords in a notebook or in a file on their computer. This is a terrible idea. Let me explain-If you use the same username and password for every single thing you do online, you’re asking for trouble. You should try you diversify your password choices. I personally increase the password complexity based on the importance of the function. The way I rate them will be:a. Financial – banking, online bill payments
    b. Email/Communication
    c. Other (an example of this is my “chatta” box on the right. This would fit my criteria for low-security)

    Password complexity tips–You really should use numbers and symbols in your passwords, to make it simple, avoid words that can be found in the dictionary. There are password crack utilities that will literally try every word found in the dictionary.

    User ID tips–Try to use names which might lend themselves to anoymity. Avoid using “firstnamelastname”. Add a number or something to make it more difficult to discern who you are.

    I use a utility by Ultrasoft called Datashield (link: http://www.ultrasoft.com/datashield/) You can find other free utilities or utilities like this that are available for a small fee which offer encrypted password storage. If you store your passwords on your computer, please make sure that it is protected!!!

    Update: I actually now use an application from Agile Web Solutions called 1Password which is really really brilliant. It really has changed the say I use passwords.

  4. Secure Sites. Do not enter any personal information on a site that is not encrypted. You can tell that a site is encrypted by looking at the address. If it is listed as- https, you can be somewhat certain that it is encrypted. You should be concerned of a few things– a) if your information is stored at some site someplace it could be compromised by either an insider or a hacker. b) if your information is compromised during the transmission of data, which could be easily done if you have spyware/malware on your computer. Your identity could be stolen.There’s many more areas of security to explore, but I think these are basics which should help you feel secure from . Take them or leave them, but here’s to safe and secure computing! Please e-mail for more tips, or just ask the next time you see me.
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About clydeblogs
I am husband to my sweetheart Lisa, and we are parents of our sweetheart Claire Renae and the curiously cute Evan. I wish I could say that I speak a little, and think a lot, but I think I speak a lot and think less than I should.

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