Sunday, December 16, 2012

How to Secure your Computer Network


What is a computer network?
  
A network is a system of interconnected computers which can communicate, share resources and transfer data. The Internet is an example of a computer network.

We have seen and experienced the tremendous advantages and benefits of computer networks, but as the computer technology advanced so are the crimes in the  computer industry. Identity theft, unauthorized access, illicit downloads, scams, computer viruses, spywares, adwares, malwares, trojans, worms, hijackers, trackwares, dataminers...the list goes on, these are just few of the bad things that we want to stay away from. There can be no such thing as completely secure network, but with useful knowledge and with the help of security tools, the risks and dangers can be minimized. Below is a list of practical and basic means of safeguarding your network as well as yourself.


Top 10 ways of securing your network:


PROTECT THOSE VULNERABLE WIRELESS NETWORKS

When you purchased those wireless routers, they are mostly designed so that it is easy to setup and install, but the problem is that security features are being compromised and disabled. To provide security to your wireless network, follow these steps:

- Change the default password of your wireless router

- Change the name (SSID) of your wireless router

- Disable SSID broadcast on your wireless router

- Enable WEP or WPA encryption on your wireless router and on your wireless network adapters



USE PASSWORDS THAT ARE HARD TO GUESS

Once your password is stolen or cracked, your personal information will be taken and your accounts will be in danger. To secure your passwords, follow these steps:

- Don't make obvious and easy to guess passwords, instead use a combination of characters, numbers, capital letters, and signs

- Choose a different password for each of your accounts

- Keep your passwords secret, and if you wrote it down, store it in a safe place

- Change your passwords on a regular basis
 or when you feel it is being known by someone else

- Never use the "Remember password" option, your laptop computer may be stolen and your files can be easily accessed



USE ANTIVIRUS

A computer virus may corrupt valuable files or even delete files and directories, trigger a computer crash, or even shutdown an entire operating system, and other harmful and unpredictable damages. To protect your network:

- Make sure an effective antivirus is installed on every computer on the network

- Enable active, resident, or real-time protection

- Schedule regular automatic virus scans

- Configure the Antivirus program to automatically receive updates (virus signatures)



USE ANTISPYWARE, ADWARE BLOCKER, POPUP BLOCKER

Spywares are malicious programs intended to gather information (spy) from your computer. Adwares are annoying programs that popup advertisements (usually banner ads) to promote another site and thereby increase traffic. To get rid of all these kinds of troubles on your network,

- Install antispyware, anti-adware and popup blocker on every computer on the network

- Enable active, resident, or real-time protection

- Schedule regular automatic spyware and adware scans

- Setup the Antispyware, Adware blocker and Popup blocker programs to automatically receive updates



USE FIREWALLS

Broadband, high-speed connections which are always on are perfect targets for hackers, thieves, and frauds. Firewalls are used to prevent these cheaters from obtaining access to your network. To ensure protection, make sure to setup and install a firewall on each computer on the network, then, periodically check the firewall rules to give access only to the programs allowed and trusted by you.



INSTALL ENCRYPTION SOFTWARE

Even when your computer is lost or stolen, encryption software can provide a further protection of sensitive data and information. If the file is encrypted, it can not be readily read by thieves and attackers, thus delaying their dirty work and giving you extra time to do the necessary actions.



USE PARENTAL CONTROL PROGRAMS

Talk to your children about the dangers that the Internet poses. Warn them not to give out addresses, birthdays, names, and other private information. Review the website history to determine the places your kids went into. To minimize the online risks, allow your children to only use the computer when you or any responsible adult can monitor and watch them.



BEWARE OF PHISHING SCAMS

Phishing is a method of identity theft designed by scam artists that is implemented by sending emails to unsuspecting victims in order to trick them to provide their personal data such as passwords, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and other personal and financial information. The usual tactic is to tell to the victim of the urgency that their account is about to expire or be soon suspended. A link is then provided for the victim to click which then leads to fake website (but authentic-looking) then the victim is lured to provide sensitive information. To avoid being a victim of phishing emails:

- Real banks and financial institutions don't request confidential financial information via email, don't ever open or read these emails

- Don't click on any links within the phishing email

- Never reply or send any emails asking you for private personal information on your account



AVOID PONZI, GET-RICH SCHEMES, FRAUD E-MAILS

Ponzi scheme (named after Charles Ponzi) is a deceptive investment strategy which promises quick and high returns in order to entice new investors. Payments to investors actually come from new investors' money and never from the fraudulent company.

Multilevel Pyramid scheme is a fraudulent business in which a prospective investor is ask to make one payment and then to recruit a new investor who would also make a payment. The first investor is offered a sum of money as a result of his recruit. The new recruit then recruits other people and the process of recruiting goes on and the more downlines, the more profits being promised.



CREATE BACKUPS

Backups are important data recovery and network security method. If a virus or other malicious software or program corrupted all the files on the network, you have something to go back to. The significance of backing up your files is also realized when problems arise such as accidental file or folder deletion, hard drive malfunction or failure resulting in data loss, stolen computers and drives, fires, floods, earthquakes and other damages.

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