Use a Hardware Firewall
A harware filewall keeps out unwanted web traffic. Most routers include hardware filewalls. To purchase one simply ask for a “Router with a Firewall”. Linksys is one of the worlds largest firewall routers. These are inexpensive must haves for home computer use.
Cost: $10 – $100
Use Anti-Virus Programs
Anti-Virus software inspects every file your computer accesses and determines if it is a malicious application. They also scan your computer for files that may have malicious intent.
Popular Brands: Norton Anti-Virus, McAfee, ZoneAlarm
Keep up with Operating Systems and Software patches
Whether your run Windows, an Apple OS, or Linux, keeping up with security patches is an essential part of home computer security.
Back up important Files
There are many ways an import file can be lost, human error such as accidental deletion, computer failure, water damage, fire damage, theft. Here are some simple ways to protect yourself
- Purchase an external USB Drive, Copy files to the drive, and store in a safe place. These drives are less than $100 and prices are dropping every day
- Another quick solution is to email files to yourself. Sites like gmail allow massives amounts of storage. Note, this is just a temporary solution.
Use Strong Passwords
There are passwords that:
- Cannot be easily guessed by a human
- Cannot be easily guessed by a computer
This means your passwords should always be:
- At least 6 characters long
- Include numbers and letters
- not include a known word
- not be easy for someone who knows you to guess
Surf, Download and Open emails with Care
Anti-Virus software is helpful, but it is not perfect. Here are some simple rules to remember when opening emails with attachments
- Is the email from someone that you know?
- Have you received email from this sender before?
- Were you expecting email with an attachment from this sender?
- Does email from the sender with the contents as described in the Subject line and the name of the attachment make sense?
Use a File Encryption Program to protect important files
Does a file contain information you don’t wish to share with others who may have physical access to your computer? These could be work or personal documents. Encryption software allows you have a personal passkey that protects your files.
PGP is an industrial strength ecryption solution.
For more detailed home computer security information refer to Cert.org’s home computer security information.