How Secure are You?
If you think that your computer security is perfect and you are safe from intruders simply because...
-"My computer is only one computer out of millions out there on the Internet."
-"What are the chances that I will actually get a virus?"
-"I use an Antivirus Software so I am completely secure."
-"I have Microsoft Windows Firewall enabled."
...then my friend, you are sorely mistaken. By simply surfing the Internet, or by sending somebody an instant message, your computer's IP address is being broadcast and could potentially be stored across the Internet. This is one simple way in which your computer privacy could be compromised. The process of intercepting an IP address from an instant message is not much more difficult. Imagine the amount of web surfing, email checking, or instant messaging you do each day. There are countless opportunities for hackers to intercept your computer's IP address! Familiarizing oneself with matters such as IP security is one way to better understand the need need for privacy protection.
All a hacker needs is simple valid IP address and an open port to possibly gain unauthorized access to your computer. However, if you think that "My computer is locked down! I'm safe because there aren't any ports to connect to!" you may want to rethink your reasoning. Most people don't realize that there are possibly hundreds of open ports on any given computer open at a time. Port Security is a commonly overlooked computer security threat. The use of a port scanner will show all the ports open on a computer. Many people don't realize that if they have file or printer sharing enabled on their computer, their NetBIOS port (port 139) is always open, waiting for a person to connect to it and access their shared files and printers! This being said, it is obvious why port security is directly correlated with data privacy and computer security. Another thing that many people don't realize is that their computers are constantly creating connections across the Internet without their knowledge! NTUtility has a utility called ActivePorts which will show how many and how often your computer creates a connection across the Internet - you'd be surprised at what you see!
Most people are convinced that firewall security is a single solution fix to all security threats. Think again, although most current firewalls do block a lot of harmful data that could possibly be corrupted, it is not foolproof. Many new viruses are being developed that are able to fool these sophisticated privacy software packages. Also, other computer privacy concerns result from internal intrusion which is heavily discussed on the web. These kind of privacy concerns develop through the use of flash drives, thumb drives, and other removable storage devices. To read more about firewall security flaws, internal intrusion, and the leak test phenomenon click here.
Finally, if you are certain that your computer is safe from intruders because it doesn't have a connection to the Internet and online privacy is does not concern you, what about the possibility of a person physically on your computer with malicious intent? How safe are your financial records, family photos, and personal documents? What if a child comes by and accidentally hits "delete all" one day while trying to load the latest and greatest PC game on your computer? What if you borrow a CD or floppy disk that is unknowingly carrying the a computer virus/worm set to delete your "My Documents" folder at the end of the month? The possibilities are too numerous to imagine. For these very reasons we should be aware of data privacy issues that relate to computer security. Everyone has some sort of need for privacy protection.
To conclude, there is no such thing as a "totally secure" computer. This is made apparent by the constant virus definition updates that get published every few days, firewall updates, and Microsoft Windows Security Updates that we are so accustomed to seeing. The only countermeasure to take is to keep your computer "as secure as possible" using the latest techniques and privacy software tools to make that goal possible:
Lock and encrypt your important documents
Use a Password Generator & Analyzer to make sure your passwords are easy to remember and hard to break
Run a Security Check to see if your current computer security settings are working properly
Use a firewall and virus scanner
Schedule a Microsoft Windows Update to occur regularly
Following these guidelines, hopefully there won't be any unannounced "surprises" next time you boot up your computer!.
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