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Securing Your Computer System

Posted by cotojo on April 23, 2007

Today, more and more people are using their computers for
everything from communication to online banking and
investing to shopping.  As we do these things on a more
regular basis, we open ourselves up to potential hackers,
attackers and crackers.  While some may be looking to phish
your personal information and identity for resale, others
simply just want to use your computer as a platform from
which to attack other unknowing targets.  Below are a few
easy, cost-effective steps you can take to make your
computer more secure.

1. Always make backups of important information and store
in a safe place separate from your computer.

2. Update and patch your operating system, web browser and
software frequently.  If you have a Windows operating
system, start by going to
and running the update wizard.  This program will help you
find the latest patches for your Windows computer.  Also go
to to locate possible
patches for your Office programs.

3. Install a firewall.  Without a good firewall, viruses,
worms, Trojans, malware and adware can all easily access
your computer from the Internet.  Consideration should be
given to the benefits and differences between hardware and
software based firewall programs.

4. Review your browser and email settings for optimum
security.  Why should you do this?  Active-X and JavaScript
are often used by hackers to plant malicious programs into
your computers.  While cookies are relatively harmless in
terms of security concerns, they do still track your
movements on the Internet to build a profile of you.  At a
minimum set your security setting for the “internet zone”
to High, and your “trusted sites zone” to Medium Low.

5. Install antivirus software and set for automatic
updates so that you receive the most current versions.

6. Do not open unknown email attachments.  It is simply
not enough that you may recognize the address from which it
originates because many viruses can spread from a familiar

7. Do not run programs from unknown origins.  Also, do not
send these types of programs to friends and coworkers
because they contain funny or amusing stories or jokes.
They may contain a Trojans horse waiting to infect a

8. Disable hidden filename extensions.  By default, the
Windows operating system is set to “hide file extensions
for known file types”.  Disable this option so that file
extensions display in Windows.  Some file extensions will,
by default, continue to remain hidden, but you are more
likely to see any unusual file extensions that do not

9. Turn off your computer and disconnect from the network
when not using the computer.  A hacker can not attack your
computer when you are disconnected from the network or the
computer is off.

10. Consider making a boot disk on a floppy disk in case
your computer is damaged or compromised by a malicious
program.  Obviously, you need to take this step before you
experience a hostile breach of your system. 

To your safety and security online


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