Saturday, June 14, 2008

3 Security Features to Help Keep Your PCs Safer

PCs Safer

1. Windows Defender
You or your employees may get tricked into downloading spyware to your business’s PCs through e-mail messages or from “spoof” Web sites. (Spyware refers to an array of software that can be installed on a PC inadvertently, or without the user’s consent.) Windows Defender, shown below, helps protect your PCs against security threats caused by spyware.

Windows Defender does three key things to protect your PCs from spyware:

• It scans for spyware on your PC and presents you with options for ignoring, allowing, or deleting any potential threats it has quarantined.
• It monitors the common entry points for spyware on your PC in real time.
• It stays current on what the latest spyware threats are so it can scan for them.

Because Windows Defender takes advantage of many of the Windows Vista platform enhancements, including improved caching technology, scans run quickly. And most of the work is done in the background without requiring your intervention or attention. Windows Defender will only alert you to serious issues that require immediate action. You will stay busy and productive with the confidence that your PCs have enhanced protection while you work.

Note: Windows Vista does not include real-time virus protection. The features discussed in this article complement antivirus software but are not a substitute for third-party antivirus software.

2. User Account Control

In Microsoft Windows XP, a user must be an “administrator” to accomplish certain day-to-day tasks like changing power settings on a portable computer or installing and updating software. One of the purposes of requiring administrator privileges is to help protect PCs from harmful downloads of malicious software - or malware. Malware refers to unwanted software including worms, viruses, adware, and spyware that could delete or steal files and information from the PC.

While this scenario keeps your PCs safer, it also limits productivity because each time a standard user needs to change a basic setting or install software, the user has to locate someone with administrator privileges to help.

Windows Vista Ultimate changes all this by offering User Account Control (UAC), a feature that makes it easier to use a PC with standard user privileges. You can create separate accounts for yourself and your employees and easily set up security parameters on each account to control which Web sites and programs each user can access and install-all without additional IT support. In addition, even when you use an administrator account, you will still benefit from increased security. Most programs run with standard user permissions by default, even when you are logged in as an administrator, which limits potential damage from malware.

3. Internet Explorer 7

To help protect against cyber attacks, businesses need a higher level of protection when employees use the Web. That is why the Internet Explorer 7 browser, included with Windows Vista Ultimate, features a number of security enhancements such as stronger safeguarding of personal data and protection against malware.

A key feature of Internet Explorer 7 is the Microsoft Phishing Filter designed to keep confidential data safer. Shown below, the Phishing Filter helps protect you from attacks that occur when you enter sensitive data, such as credit card numbers, into a Web site form that looks legitimate, but is actually designed to steal confidential information.

The Phishing Filter helps protect your business by:

• Comparing the sites you visit to addresses of reported legitimate sites
• Analysing the sites you visit for phishing characteristics
• Sending the addresses of the sites you visit to an online service that keeps a database of known phishing sites

If a site you visit has been confirmed as a phishing site, you will be warned of its threat level and automatically redirected to a safer page. The online database of known phishing sites is an opt-in service. If desired (though not recommended), the Phishing Filter can be deactivated with a single click. Used in combination with Windows Defender, Internet Explorer 7 helps keep your PCs and data safe.

Maintain PC security

PC Security must be your first priority. Your personal computer is a common target for intruders and other malicious users because they want to access personal data such as bank account information, credit card numbers or any important data they could find.

Intruders not only steal your financial information, they could also use your computer resources – such as hard disk, processor and internet connection to attack other users. This way, law enforcement will find it difficult to solve where the attacks are coming from.

To prevent possible identity theft or computer hijack, follow these eight steps in maintaining PC security:

1. Anti-Virus Programs – These programs search and assess the contents of each computer file then removes or destroys “virus signatures”, which are known to be harmful to your computer.

2. Patch up your System – This process involves fixing the operating system and restoring different functions of your computer. Most computer vendors offer patches that are designed to fix bugs in their products. This process is repeated until the patch fixes the problem completely.

3. Email Attachment Precautions – Most unsolicited items, such as exploding packages or letter bombs, can be sent through your e-mail. Take extra precaution in opening emails to prevent any harm your computer may receive.

4. Firewall Programs – Install and use a firewall program. These programs act as a guard to your computer when looking at network traffic received from or destined for other computers. The firewall program determines if certain traffic should be allowed to continue to its destination or stopped. These programs keep the unwanted out and permit only “healthy” traffic to enter and leave your computer.

5. Data Backups – It is important that back up your data in your computer’s hard disk, external hard disk drives or any removable media. This ensures each important data will not be harmed when computer problems arise.

6. Strong Passwords – It is important to mix up several numbers, symbols and letters to strengthen password safety. An ideal length of password is around eight or more letters, numbers or symbols.

7. Download and Installation – Be careful in accepting or downloading any material online to prevent virus attacks and computer hijacks.

8. Hardware Firewall – Hardware firewall, which works similarly to firewall programs, stands between your personal computer and the Internet.

Although these steps may seem simple, remember that maintaining computer safety is a continuous process. You cannot perform these tasks once and let your computer be. Get back to each of these steps regularly and check if you need program updates.

Keeping your computer secure is in your hands. Outsmart computer hijackers by reinforcing computer safety precautions.

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