What is Computer Security?

Computer security is the ability to protect your computer, laptop, smart phone and tablet from cyber thieves who want to steal your personal information and data.

Everyday technology is becoming more and more complex. At the same time, computer thieves are becoming more and more sophisticated at breaking into computers.

We live in a digital world. Protecting your computers and personal information is critically important in order to protect yourself and your family from cyber criminals.

Computer security includes:

  • physical computer protection
  • software computer protection
  • data and personal information protection

We are All a Target

It is natural to ask, “Why do I have to protect my computer? Why would anyone care to break into my computer or cell phone? I have nothing interesting, and nothing to hide”.

Cyber thieves don’t do any research about who we are. They do not use marketing and advertising techniques to figure out who to target. They simply target all of us.

They don’t care whose computer they break into. Anyone’s personal information that can be used to create a fake identity is a good hack. Anyone’s password that can be used to steal money is great.

It is a mistake to think no one will target your computer. “I don’t have anything interesting on my computer, why would anyone attack me?” is not the right way to think. We are all a target.

This is because cyber attacks are automated. Computer criminals use software programs to scan all computers connected to the Internet and automatically attack them. Computers with weak protection will be broken into.

Physical Protection

You can lose your laptop or someone can steal it. Computer desktops are harder to steal because they are bigger and heavier. Some companies buy large desktops for this reason – it is more complicated to steal them, and more likely employees may notice a stranger walking out with a large computer under their arm.

One way to increase your computer safety is to encrypt the hard drive. If your computer gets lost or stolen, encryption makes it much more difficult to recover your information from the computer.

Encryption makes the data on your computer look scrambled to thieves. They will not be able to understand it. Phones can be encrypted as well.

Physical security includes always keeping your laptop with you when you go outside your house or office. Don’t leave it unattended in a café or library. This means you should put it in your bag and take it with you to the restroom if you are by yourself.

If someone sees your laptop and you’re not around, even for a few seconds, they can walk away with it. It is simply not worth the risk. Never let your laptop out of your sight.

Software Protection

Your computer will be under attack by automated hacking tools as soon as you connect it to the network or the Internet (wired or wireless).

This is especially dangerous for a new computer that you just bought. Computers without any software protection like a firewall and anti-virus tools face the highest risk.

Connecting your computer to the Internet it is like moving your house to Times Square in New York City. Huge crowds of people constantly pass by your house. Some will knock or try to open your front door. If your door is unlocked, they will go inside your house and steal any valuables they can find.

Software security tools like anti-virus and anti-malware applications protect your computer from cyber thieves that are trying to break into it. It is like having a security guard in front of your house, protecting the doors and windows. If a thief tries to gets in, the security guide will capture him.

Any one particular software tool does not cover all the break-in cases and scenarios, just like one security guard does not catch all types of intruders (which is why pharmacies and stores still get robbed).

Running a combination of tools, each of which specializes in specific computer protection, is the best computer security approach. This is called defense in depth.

Data and Personal Information Protection

The most valuable assets are the most difficult to protect: your personal information.

If lost or stolen, it can be used to open credit cards and bank loans in your name. Thieves can also claim your tax return money from the IRS before you do.

Recovering from identity theft is a long and time-consuming process.

In the meantime, with your credit reputation damaged, you will have trouble getting loans, credit cards, and anything else that requires good credit scores. And it seems almost everyone today wants to know your credit score before they do business with you.

To protect your data:

  •  Encrypt your hard drives and USB sticks
  • Organize your data on computers to avoid having multiple copies laying around
  • Do not leave your data behind when you no longer need it - delete it instead
  • Use encryption to communicate

Computer Security Fundamentals

Computer security is a way to protect your computer, smart phone and other digital devices.

Computer security consists of:

  • physical computer protection
  • software computer protection
  • data and personal information protection

Now that you are more familiar with what is computer security, you can start thinking about how to better protect it, and how to secure your valuable personal information.

Fundamental computer security includes having anti-virus software installed on your computer (yes, even Mac), using a password manager and paying attention while browsing on the Internet.

Every journey beings with that first step. Progress, not perfection, will get you where you want to be.

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