There are 3 basic kinds of unauthorized access points to the home computer: physically powering it on and using it, remote unauthorized access, and infectors which include botnets, malware, spyware, trojans, viruses and worms. Each home computer user needs to know how to protect themselves by limiting unauthorized access.
When your computer is physically available, anyone can turn it on and use it with or without your permission or supervision. This includes when it is in your possession and when it is stolen or lost. Anyone using your computer can parade around the internet disguised as you with your digital identification and access to your email when you have an email client installed. If you allow your computer to remember usernames and passwords to websites (including banks, social gatherings and stores), the person using your computer may be able to perform online transactions as you without your knowledge or permission. If your operating system offers various users their own logon, use the feature. If you are the only person using your computer, it is safer to have both an administrator logon and a user logon with limited permissions. Use the administrator logon when you want to install new hardware or software. Use the user logon when you connect to the internet. This will help limit the number of unauthorized installations from infectors. You can also lock your desktop or use a screensaver password to limit access to your home computer by requiring a password. How you do either of these depends on the features of your operating system.
Remote unauthorized access is when someone not physically nearby can use your computer through a telecommunications connection. Examples can include someone in your neighborhood using your home network wireless connection without your knowledge or permission to connect to the internet, or someone illegally targeting your computer to disable it, look at the data, hide illegal data, change information, or delete information. The best way to avoid remote unauthorized access is to physically disconnect your computer from the internet when you aren’t using it, use an updated firewall and encryption software for important files and wireless data transmission when you are connected to the internet. When you have a home network, be sure you construct and use your own long password instead of the default password for the firewall to your router.
Infectors aren’t just viruses and worms. An infector is any software, file or command that bypasses protection features by appearing to be something it isn’t so it can be given permission by the user, operating system or installed programs to do its mischief. Infectors include spyware and malware.
Following guidelines for basic internet safety and home computer security will reduce the number of malicious instances in individual computers. If the majority of internet users daily practiced internet safety, cybercrime would dramatically decrease around the world.