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Windows 7: Taking control of computer security

15 Nov 2010   #1

Windows 7 & Windows Vista Ultimate
Taking control of computer security

Help protect your computer without losing your information—or your mind

By Kim Douglas

In the mood for a scary story? Go to your favorite news website and search for the phrase "computer security." A quick scan of the headlines should raise your blood pressure: Risk. Scam. ID theft. Hacker. Attack. Predator. It doesn't take much imagination to picture a cartoon burglar lurking around every corner of the Internet, wearing the customary striped sweater and eye mask, and ready to scurry off with all of your personal information in a canvas sack.

Well, there are potential dangers to your computer out there. Viruses and other malicious software (or malware) pose a genuine threat, and could make your data unusable or steal it outright. You might even make an honest mistake, installing software or changing a setting that can cost you time, frustration, or money to correct. But don't panic: new and improved features in Windows 7 can help you secure your PC at home, online, and on the go. In this column, I'll point out some of the ways you can better protect your computer from bad guys and, occasionally, from yourself.
Tips to help protect your PC at home, from online threats, and while on the go: Taking control of computer security.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Nov 2010   #2


A good firewall on your desktop system combined with turning off the wireless transmitter on your router when you're not using it will prevent a lot of problems at home. It takes less than 2 minutes to crack WEP security, regardless of password, and less than a day to crack the average WPA table, after which a skilled hacker will know nearly everything you're doing on the internet. However, only an amateur will bother with a home network, unless you happen to have more than 7 bedrooms. The professionals go where the money is.. businesses (and their owners) and web hosting sites.

Don't do anything with a laptop that you wouldn't want the rest of the world to know about if it can be avoided. Otherwise, the best thing you can do is use a little sense. If the right person gains physical control (or otherwise) and really wants to get personal information from a computer, no amount of security is going to matter, especially if you don't use it. Encrypt your HDD and create hidden partitions for sensitive data. Set a bios startup password, a HDD password, and a secure account password, all different. Don't leave a laptop running and unattended in a public place. These three measures alone will stop most thieves in their tracks, or at lease secure your data from people who don't have access to more powerful machines with cracking software and the skills to use it. It won't always stop a theft from taking place, but I'm pretty sure it would be quite amusing to be a fly on the wall in the room of the average crackhead unfortunate enough to steal and try to hack one of my laptops.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Taking control of computer security

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