Monday, April 21, 2008

Computer Security Against Data Loss And Identity Theft

by: Chris Kaminski

This week I was going to write about upgrading system RAM but while watching the news I saw the story about and their data theft. Last weeks big story was the data lose at the Veterans Administration. NOW .. to be clear, these were not computer security breeches but people actually carrying the data out on disk. But the point is data is valuable and this leads to computer security

This past week alone we had 5 machines that were so loaded with spyware the machines literally stalled and were unusable. Now, knowing how low the response is when we run spyware ads I know many of you are not listening. Then, when you head to the repair shop it is already too late. Add to this the cost of the repair /clean out which usually costs many times is more then the actual machine is worth.

If ever there was a case for the fabled "ounce of prevention" this is it. Anyway identity theft is the fastest growing, most damaging and expensive crime we have today. It can take up to a year to detect and by then the damage can be extensive, but with a few simple steps you can avoid it. The problem is getting you to take those steps so I'll go over them again.

Before you go near the Internet your computer needs three types of software, first, a good anti-virus program. We recommend products like Norton Anti-virus, Trend Micro and if you are looking for a good freebie, get AVG. Now if one is good two should be better right ... wrong. This not true with virus software. Very often they will conflict and cause system performance issues.

Next you need a firewall, if nothing else use the built in Windows firewall that comes with XP Sp2, if you have an earlier version then you seriously need to run Windows updates. This is not just for the firewall but you are missing a large collection of security updates. Finally, you need a spyware scanner and you need two of these, one pro-active (scanning threats as they come in) and one that is reactive (scans for threats that are let in by hiding in something else). This is especially true if you use Yahoo, MSN, or Google search bars.

Also AOL is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to collecting and selling info on their subscribers. But they hide it well by keeping you focused on the competitors spyware they are removing. You also need two spyware scanners because neither will get all the threats and one will get what the other missed. We recommend Pest Patrol and Ad Aware. Avoid Spybot at all costs. This is just a spyware suite disguised as a scanner. Well there you have it, again. The Internet is a safe place if you take the proper precautions.