Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert
Michael Chertoff, who ran the Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009, says there’s a reason that computer security isn’t up to the threat posed by cyber criminals: Doing it right is too complicated for most people.
“You have to offer people solutions that they are comfortable with,” he said.
Cybercrime is a huge problem that the majority of people who have a connection to the internet aren’t prepared to deal with.
While securing one’s PC isn’t a daunting task once you understand the process. For most people, protecting one’s PC is beyond the capacity of most computer users. The main issue is that the companies that develop this technology aren’t effective at explaining how things work in simple terms.
Educating users on the terminology is like learning a second language and for most people is near impossible due to life’s existing constraints. Which means technology companies have to do a better job of providing solutions that people are comfortable with that require little or no additional skills.
Here is an attempt at increasing your security vocabulary:
1. Run Windows Update: Or it may be called “Microsoft Update” on your PC. This is a free update to your operating system that Microsoft provides. There are two ways to access this. Either click “Start” then “All Programs”, scroll up the menu and look for the link “Windows Update or Microsoft Update.” Click on it. Your browser (Internet Explorer) by default will launch taking you right to Microsoft’s Windows Update web page and will begin the process of looking at your PC and checking to see what security patches you don’t have. Follow the prompts and click “Express” and let it lead you in the direction it wants. The goal here is for XP to end up with “Service Pack 3” installed. Or go to “Control Panel” and seek out “Security Center.” And click “Turn on Automatic Updates” and let Microsoft do this automatically. In Vista the process is similar and your goal is “Service Pack 1.”
2. Install Anti-Virus: Most PCs come with bundled anti-virus that runs for free for 6 months to a year. Then you just re-up the license. If you don’t, then every day that the anti-virus isn’t updated, is another opportunity for criminal hackers to turn your PC into a Zombie that allows your computer to be a Slave sending out more viruses to other PCs and turning your PC into a Spambot selling Viagra.
3. Install Spyware Removal Software: Most anti-virus providers define spyware as a virus now. However, it is best to run a spyware removal program monthly to make sure your PC is rid of software that may allow a criminal hacker to remotely monitor you’re keystrokes, websites visited and the data on your PC.
4. Run Firefox: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is clunky and the most hacked software on the planet. Mozilla’s Firefox is less hacked and more secure. Maintain the default settings keep the pop-up blockers and phishing filters on.
5. Secure Your Wireless: If you are running an unsecured wireless connection at home or the office, anyone can jump on your network from 300-500 feet away and access your files. Serious. The router has instruction on how to set up WEP or WPA security. WPA is more secure. If this is a foreign language to you, then hire someone or get your 15 year old to do it.
6. Install a Firewall: Microsoft’s operating system comes with a built in firewall. But it is not very secure. Go with a 3rd party firewall that is prepackaged with anti-virus software.
7. Use Strong Passwords: Little yellow stickys on your monitor with your passwords isn’t good. Use upper case, lower case, alpha-numeric passwords that you change up every 6 months.