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Security 101

(or, 6 things to make your computer safer)

  1. Don't panic! Much of what you hear about will probably not affect the majority of home computers. All this Code Red and Nimda stuff that has been (and still is) going around is harmless to most computers. Keep a clear head, and move to #2
  2. Be smart. Look at what you have, and figure out how to protect that. Also plan ahead for possible expansions and how to protect that. Also, don't get a $20,000 solution for a $2,000 computer, or a $20 solution for a $200,000 network.
  3. Research the possible solutions. groups.google.com is a good place to start, it'll allow you to search a large number of newsgroups in one big swoop without having to know what a newsgroup is! www.practicallynetworked.com also has a large number of reviews on hardware and software routers.
  4. Know what to protect yourself from. There's more to security than preventing other computers from exploiting vulnerabilities on your computer. There's also viruses, worm and trojan horses. That means you'll need a good anti-virus solution as well as something to prevent unwanted connections to your computer.
  5. Don't forget about E-Mail. The #1 source of virus/worm infections today is e-mail. During the big SirCam epidemic, I would see up to 100 e-mails per day containing the SirCam worm. Your two choices are: a) never run any attachments you receive in e-mail without scanning them first, or b) Have some sort of software scanning your e-mail first.
  6. Don't panic! I already said that, but once you get your security hardware and/or software up and running, you will see things that you had no idea was going on. Keep your cool. Most of what you'll see is harmless, especially since you just secured your computer(s) from most of this. I've seen way too many people who go way overboard with the smallest things.

1999-2005 Lars M. Hansen