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How Much Computer Protection Do I Need?

written by: Donna Buenaventura•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 6/25/2010

If you frequent PC or security discussion forums, you will find questions by users, “How much protection do I need?" Before we answer the question, we need to understand what we need to protect.

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    Protection 

    So how much protection do you need? We need protection that will cover all type of risks in using a computer and the internet. Below are the risks to protect against and the protection to use:

    • Vulnerabilities – we need to protect the weaknesses of the software and services that we are using. If there is software or service glitch, we are at risk to be infected, become a victim of deception, or receive direct and indirect attacks.

    How to protect: Use a firewall program and install the latest security updates for the operating system and other installed software. Scan the computer using a vulnerability scanner to ensure that you have the proper security configuration and are not missing any important security updates.

    • Malware – we have to protect the PC and our data from malicious software that can damage the computer or spread to contacts or network.

    How to protect: Use real-time protection by an antivirus program, regularly scan the computer with up-to-date detection signatures, and use online scanners or additional anti-malware software to make sure that your antivirus did not miss any type of malware. Do not allow installation of unnecessary software. Use a monitoring program that will prompt you for any unwanted changes in critical areas of the system.

    • Fraud and Spam – Crime follows the crowd so we need to protect the PC and our data against fake messages in e-mail or website.

    How to protect: Create a strong password and regularly update the password. Enable fraud and spam filtering protections in the browser and e-mail program. Use caution when clicking links or providing your personal and financial information.

    • Social Engineering – we need to protect our computer from identity thieves. Social networking is one of the popular technologies today, which can put your private information and your identity at risk. The use of social networking services increases the chance the victim will divulge information.

    How to protect: Avoid using such services if you don’t need it. If you have to use social networking service, choose your social networking carefully by evaluating the site and check the privacy policy. Be very careful with social networking sites, especially at work and if your kids are using one! Guide and advise them on the risks of using social networking services.

    • Computer or Software Failure – software glitches, improper shutdown and computer or hardware failure can cause problems, too. We can lose our data if any of these occurs.

    How to protect: Turn on System Restore to easily restore the computer to earlier state, if an update or software installation has caused issue. Regularly back-up the system or the hard-drive to an external drive or use online backup. Maintain your computer’s health by defragging the hard-drive and cleaning up for unnecessary and temporary files.

    • Hackers and Network Intrusions – our computer and network connection is at risk to hackers and intruders, especially if there are open ports or you are using weak settings.

    How to protect: Use a firewall program to block unauthorized access to your computer and network. Review the settings and ensure that you only allow the trusted computers that have access to your connection and data. If you are connected to a public connection or computer, always log-out to websites that you had access and erase the tracks. You can also take advantage of InPrivate Browsing in IE or the Private Browsing feature in Firefox that will not leave any tracks.

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    Final Words

    The amount of protection we need depends on how we want to be protected and how we use the computer. Security programs are tools to get the protection we need but not a 100% protection if we don’t apply safe computing techniques. Stay informed on security and privacy matters that you or your organization is using or will use to be able to implement security policies or action in preventing security and privacy problems.