Sunday, September 1, 2013

Computer Security: What basics should I know?

All of you reading this right now are using a computer. Weather it be an iPhone, Android, PC, Mac, basically any way you could be reading this, you are using a computer with an internet connection. You have left the safety of your own computer, and connected into the wild, where you can connect to anyone, and anyone can connect to you. You have credit card information on your computer, or at least type it occasionally, enter social security numbers, and just generally enjoy using your device.

But there are things out there to protect you, right? Routers, and Operating manufactures such as Microsoft and Apple, other companies all try to do their best. Hackers target these systems knowing their limitations though, so it's not safe to just trust them. It's not their fault that they are up against an entire world of hackers that want to break into their products that you own. If you want what someone has, they eventually will get it.

What you can do however is minimize the damage that they can do. There are other products that you can buy, or get for free. More money doesn't always mean better though, but sometimes a paid product can be worth it. Antivirus is good mostly for stopping minor hackers, also known as "Script Kiddies". These are low level hackers that generally don't know how the hacks work, but leach off others works and use them until the attached programs are patched, and render the known attacks useless. There are however better hackers that break through new patches and programs. These types of hackers are much fewer, so if you protect yourself from script kiddies, you are safe from a lot of attacks.

The first thing you should grab is a manual virus scanner. There are plenty of automatic ones, though if you follow the next step, They shouldn't be forgotten all together as viruses can do more than just send your information to other servers, and even if they do, they can't always be stopped from making it back, so a virus scanner is still helpful. Take your pick, or find the best from virus scan sites like virustotal.

The other place that you can gain security is a firewall. Most viruses goals is to steal your information (keypresses, other recorded information, ect). They need to make a connection, in (or out from the virus to them),and a firewall can stop most things. Firewalls can be set up to block known bad things, or even better, block everything except known trusted programs. This is a good way to make sure that no program can make a connection in, or call home unless you allow it. It can however be a pain to set up all of the programs on your system, though this is the most secure method when mixed with an anti virus.

I'll post more details on setting things up later, but this is a general overview of protecting yourself when connected to the internet.