January 3, 2011

Norton’s Top 10 Security Strategies

Posted in Internet Safety tagged , , , at 5:35 PM by Rockin' Rita

Dear Readers,
I hope you find this as informative and helpful as I did. I think all of our New Year’s  Resolutions should be to pay attention to what we do online and to do what it takes to keep ourselves safe while surfing, checking email, or even purchasing things online. If you know of any other great tips feel free to comment them. And if you have any blogging and/or wordpress html tips for me as I go through this journey with you please comment that too! Tips are always welcome- after all, this is Rockin’ Tips!
-Rockin Rita-
Make it simple to be safer with these 10 tips for enhanced security.
Are you a fan of malicious code, spam, and phishing? How about lengthy and complex lists of steps and precautions that you’ll never read, much less follow? If you answered no to either or both of these questions, review these ten basic strategies for keeping the bad stuff away from your home or office computer.
1. Beware suspicious email. You may think an email is harmless—until you open it and it’s not. Scan emails before you open them, and take extra caution when launching executable (.exe) files attached to an email. Like don’t do it. Never open attachments in email from unknown senders and never reply to spam (unless you consider a few choice words muttered under your breath a reply).
2. Neighborhood Watch your network. If you’ve got multiple computers linked together at home or at the office, keep an eye on the neighborhood. Check in and make sure there are no strangers loitering or causing trouble. If there are, tell them to leave, clean up any mess they might have left, and increase network security. All network-connected computers and inbound/outbound traffic should be monitored for signs of unauthorized entry and malicious activity, ensuring that any infected computers are removed from the network and disinfected as soon as possible.
3. Patch. Upgrade. Repeat. Protect yourself by getting the latest operating system and security software updates and patches right away. Also upgrade your browsers to the latest versions as soon as they become available.
4. Encrypt like your hair’s on fire. If you keep sensitive data on your PC—and most people do—encrypt it.
5. Layer your security. Just like wearing layers better protects you from the cold, layers of security better protects your PC from the evildoers of cyberspace. Use antivirus software and firewalls, and keep all your security programs up to date. Antivirus definitions should be updated regularly. Also, make sure to enable the security settings on Web browsers and disable file sharing.
6. Back it up. If you’ve got important data, back it up. Period. There are too many ways to lose information: human error, hardware failure, lightning storms, voodoo…the list goes on. It’s just as bad to lose data for these reasons, as to malware. (Rockin Rita’s note: It doesn’t have to be expensive to back up your files and data. Ask friends what they use or ask a tech guru. Who says you have to buy right away? Do your homework to find out exactly what you will need. Go price matching- check internet shopping sites, look in print-ad’s, go into an electronics store [such as Best Buy, among others] and ask the sales associates)
7. Shore up your weaknesses. What are your vulnerabilities? No firewall? Really, really old software? General bad luck? Take account of where you’re weak on computer security, and address the problem…or problems.
8. Take your passwords to the gym. The stronger your passwords, the more likely they’ll fend off devious intruders who are looking for weaklings they can bully. Passwords should have at least eight characters and should combine alphanumeric and special characters ($, *, &, etc.). You should also change your passwords every 45-60 days.
9. Whatever you do, don’t order the spam sandwich. When it comes to malware, spam is usually where it begins. Spam not only gobbles up your valuable time, it also hogs bandwidth and storage space. Report spam if you can, and use anti-spam software whenever possible. (Rockin Rita’s tip: Make sure you have strong virus protection software up-to-date and running at all times. It doesn’t have to cost you much if anything- freeware such as Microsoft Security Essentials and Avast Anti-Virus by Alwil are great products and you can’t beat that price tag! Again do your research!)
10. Physical security counts. True, most PC security threats are virtual—but problems can also begin in the real world. If your computer is open to snoopers, try a screen-locking feature, or just shut your system down. If you’ve got a laptop, lock it down with a cable. And whatever you do, don’t leave your passwords written down where someone can easily read them. (Rockin Rita’s tip: I use LastPass to encrypt, store, and generate secure passwords. It’s free to download and it gives you great sense of mind. Best of all all you have to remember is your LastPass password!) There are a number of routine things users can do to bolster security. These include: using the screen-locking feature when away from the computer, shutting the computer off when done for the day, locking laptops with a cable, not leaving passwords written down, and being extra mindful of physical security of PDAs and handheld devices, which are popular targets for thieves.
If your attention span was long enough for these 10 steps, then you may be ready for a brief trial of Norton Internet Security, or other Norton products that simplify and bolster your confidence in a connected world. And if you need more hands-on help, check Norton Premium Services. (Rockin Rita’s tip: keep in mind after your trial, most Norton products are not free!)

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