Security starts on your PC itself, with a range of considerations:
- Is your PC used at home or an office?
- How secure is the location? Secure from intruders.
- How sensitive is the information on your PC, especially if it is used in business?
- Is there more than one user, more than just you?
A PC use for business usually contains sensitive files (client and vendor accounts for example). You may have employees that use the PC as part of their job. In these cases you should have a basic Windows Password (one you enter when you boot to Windows) for each user.
The Windows Password should meet minimum security criteria, which I will discussed in another post, especially in business or the context of child protection.
Also, security involves the considerations like backing up your critical files or protecting your PC from power outages.
Being online has its own considerations:
- Do you really need to be online all the time?
- Do you really need to have your PC on all the time?
- At home, do you have young children you need to protect?
- Hackers, viruses, identity theft, etc.
The first two items above actually need to be considered first because they impact the fourth item.
NOT being online lowers your exposure to hackers, viruses, etc.
If your PC is off, you are not online, you are not exposed. This also ensures your PC will last longer and have less impact on your energy bill.
This brings up one of the biggest considerations, in my opinion, in online security. Online Sharing Programs; music sharing, photo sharing, whatever sharing.
Users need to understand how these programs work. They all allow other users worldwide to connect to your PC, many times without your immediate knowledge and prowl through your PC (supposedly looking just for music for example). The worst example was a popular site that actually was allowing access to ALL files on a PC, not just the ones the sharing program was for. They did correct this mistake but not before thousands of users were exposed.
Now add the strain on your PC system resources. Personal example; my niece had singed up for an online college course. She found she could not make connection with the college, and she had a good DSL connection. The problem was caused by her eldest daughter installing a music sharing program, so every time the PC was booted the sharing site was uploading a list of all the music on the PC. This used all the connection bandwidth preventing any normal IE browser connection.
Also, because of the connection log-jam, her anti-virus program was not updating properly and the sharing program provided a virus entry point. So after getting her PC operating properly (uninstalling the music sharing program) and updating her anti-virus, (she had 500+ viruses on her system!) everything ran just fine.
This leads to the issue of protecting children:
Not only do you want to protect your children from online predators (just look at the news), but you also have to protect your PC from your children (the daughter who installs a sharing program for example).
Also, there is the issue of WEB sites like MySpace or Facebook for social networking. There are many news items of children (even older teenagers) falling pray to online predators who frequent these sites. This is not just because of the WEB sites themselves, but of the indiscriminate dangerous ways children use them.
- Posting photos of themselves
- Posting mailing address, especially home addresses
- Using their real name instead of a nickname or handle
- Posting other personal information that could help online predators
By the way, no matter what these social networking sites say, there is no way (short of a full background check and fingerprinting) of assuring a user IS who he/she says they are. Online predators will know how to get around any normal identity checks.
I will be making more posts on these general issues later.