Keep Passwords Confidential

 

When it comes to passwords, it's not nice to share. Your password is secret and confidential; be sure to keep it that way. Never divulge your password to anyone, whether in person or over the phone -- no matter who asks, no matter why they say it's needed.

Intruders look for passwords posted on your computer, under your keyboard, inside your desk, on your bulletin board and in every other area of your workspace. This is why it's best not to write down your password at all. But, if you must write it down, treat it like money and keep it in your wallet or another secure location.

 

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Backup important files to a separate location/media

 

Creating original documents is a time consuming process.  Hours of irreplaceable work can be destroyed in a flash due to computer hardware failure, virus infection, disk failure, or user error.  “Backup” is the most practical means of protection.

 

“Backup” means keeping one or more extra copies of your document, preferably in separate places.  Imagine the worst:  what would you do if your computer crashed and you lost everything on it right now?  What if the building burns to the ground?  How much work would be lost?  How many hours would it take to replace it?

        Compose your document with frequent saves to your computer’s hard disk, and always consider that version to be your "original" (modern hard disks are considerably more reliable than floppy disks).

        When you stop for the day, or when you reach a milestone representing a level of work that needs extra protection; “back up” by saving the file(s) to removable media:  floppy disk, CD-RW, flash drive, etc.  With a PC,  select File from your menu, select Save As while your document is open.

        At the earliest opportunity, store the backup in a separate physical location.  The backup should be far enough from the original that the likelihood of both locations being destroyed is extremely small.

        If you can’t immediately store the backup media in another physical location and the document isn't too big, consider e-mailing it to a friend or colleague.  You can also e-mail it to yourself.  That way, the document is safely stored on your e-mail server until the next time you check your e-mail.

        If you must do significant editing to the document, save it under a different name, for example, mypaper2.doc .  Continue to use new names with each successive edition, being careful not to delete the old ones until you are 100% sure that you will never need them.  This is especially important when combining documents to make a new document:  always give the new document a different name, and always save the original pieces in case they are needed later.

 

For extra protection, periodically print your document.  That way, the document can be re-typed or scanned if the disk version is destroyed or damaged.

 

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Always run a current up-to-date version of anti-virus software

 

A virus is a program that can wreak havoc on your computer and use your Internet connection to spread itself to other computers, usually those of your co-workers, friends, and family. You can prevent many viruses by only opening e-mail attachments when you know where the e-mail came from and are expecting the attachment. Unfortunately, sometimes that isn't even enough. Read on to learn how you can help prevent viruses from infecting your computer.

Step 1: Check your computer for antivirus software

Most computers now come with antivirus software installed. Follow these steps to determine if you already have the software you need to prevent viruses.

  • Click Start, and then click Programs.
  • Look for the word "antivirus." You might also see the name of a popular antivirus manufacturer such as McAfee, Norton, Trend Micro, or Symantec.

Step 2: Keep your antivirus program up to date

 

You don't expect that flu shot you got three years ago to prevent you from contracting this year's strain do you? Similarly, antivirus software will only help protect you from viruses if you update it regularly. Antivirus programs work by comparing your machine against known viruses. When you update your software you download information about all the latest viruses. Depending on your software this information is usually referred to as "virus definitions." As virus writers are always coming up with new ways to infect your computer, we recommend that you download all the new virus definitions monthly or even weekly.

 

Here are two ways to find out when you last updated your antivirus program:

  • Click the antivirus software icon in your system tray in the bottom right side of your screen, near the clock. You should see the date that you last updated your software.
  • Open your antivirus software by clicking Start, clicking Programs, and then clicking your antivirus software. Look for information about the update status.

Check your virus software to ensure auto-update is set to daily. If it has been more than a month since you manually updated your software, do it now to help ensure your safety. You can usually download up to date virus definitions (antivirus software updates) by simply visiting the website of the company that makes your software.

Remember, you must have a current antivirus subscription to download updates to your software. If your subscription has expired, be sure to renew—or, if you prefer, take this opportunity to try a different antivirus program.

 

Tip:  Two antivirus programs are not better than one. If you already have antivirus software but you'd like to try a different one, always uninstall the old program before you install the new one. Running more than one antivirus program at the same time may cause major conflicts.

 

Step 3: Choose antivirus software that's right for you

 

If you don't have antivirus software on your system, or if you'd like to install a different program here are two key factors to consider before you make your choice:

  • Auto-updates. Downloading the latest updates is critical. Many companies offer an automated option for their products.
  • The manufacturer's reputation. If you search the Internet long enough you're bound to find antivirus software for which you don't have to pay a dime. Yet other antivirus vendors allow you to download a free trial version of their antivirus software to see if you like it before you buy it.

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Regularly download Microsoft critical updates--this can be scheduled

 

Microsoft regularly issues patches or updates to solve security problems in their software. Updates or “patches” normally are released on Tuesdays, but important issues can trigger updates at any time. Critical updates are the ones you should be concerned about. If these are not applied, it leaves your computer vulnerable to hackers. Service Packs are larger updates which upgrade and fix security problems.

 

For a tutorial on how to check for updates and configure them to load automatically in Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 click on the following link -- Tutorial 


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Regularly run updated anti-malware software

 

 

Malware is a term to describe any malicious software that is loaded on a computer in order to gather information, re-direct browsers, send SPAM mail, or any other activities unbeknownst to the computer’s user. Some examples of malware are viruses, worms, trojans, rootkits, dialers, keyboard loggers, spyware, and adware. Unfortunately many of these types of programs are able to circumvent even the most reputable and up-to-date Anti-Virus program.

These programs are often installed without the user's consent as a result of visiting a website or through clicking on an option in a deceptive pop-up window. Spyware can also be carried in viruses or installed alongside other free software downloaded from the internet. You should read the license agreements for such software very carefully before you agree to install it.

 

While we recommend that everyone install a good Anti-Virus program (and keep it updated) complementing it with a good Anti-Malware program is essential to keeping your computer running efficiently and it’s data safe.

 

There are a number of free anti-malware software tools and commercial products that claim to be able to remove malware from your computer. These should be regularly updated like anti-virus software with the latest definition files from the vendor. One such free product is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

 

Important points to remember:

  • Be careful when clicking on links on websites you do not trust.

  • Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date

  • Pay careful attention to the license agreements of software downloaded from the internet.

  • Run anti-spyware software regularly and make sure it is up-to-date by using it's built in update tool or from the software vendor's website.

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E-mail: run routine maintenance; beware of unexpected attachments

 

This is an important part of your email management. When you no longer need an email, it should be deleted. When you first delete an email, your software will send the email to the Trash Bin. Your email is not actually deleted until you first empty your trash bin.  Emptying your trash bin compresses the mailboxes from where the email was originally filed. This is absolutely paramount to the protection of your email data. If you go too long between compressing your email data, then your email data could become corrupted and you might need assistance in recovering your email data.

 

Organization is key to any emails that you intend to save. Having 2000 emails in one folder is a sure-fire road map to confusion and lost communications and information.  You are the best judge as to how to organize your email into topics that provide an easy method of retrieval of the information when you need it most.  Fortunately, the popular email clients make it easy to organize your information. By allowing you to create folders within your email software, you can file specific emails into folders dedicated to the topic of the email.

 

Beware of unexpected or unsolicited e-mail attachments.  Because e-mail is one of the primary ways to exchange information among Internet users, it is also a key method for spreading viruses. A basic plain text e-mail is unable to transmit most viruses. It is the attachment to the e-mail that contains the potential hazard. If the attachment is unexpected or unsolicited and from an unknown sender, the wisest decision would be to delete the e-mail without opening the attachment. If the e-mail is from a known and trusted source, but you did not expect an attached file from that source, you may want to contact the sender to confirm that the attachment is legitimate.

 

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Keep original CDs/Disks of software

 

You should always store all CDs and floppy disks that came with the computer in a safe place where you will find them if they are needed for troubleshooting problems with your computer. These disks can resolve most issues with your computer. 

 

Most brand name PCs such as Dell and Gateway ship with a "restore" CD, which contains a utility that will restore your PC to its original state (as it was when you initially purchased it). This is a great utility if you need to re-format your PC, however, reformatting is usually a last resort for most problems that your system may encounter. Furthermore, this utility is not appropriate for resolving most problems, which require files to be copied from the original operating system software. Therefore, you want to have the actual Windows 95/98/2000/XP CD or Mac OS CD that shipped with your computer . If the system you purchased did not include these CDs, you should contact the manufacturer and request that they ship you the appropriate operating system CD.

 

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Turn off PC & monitor when leaving for the day

 

Reasons:

 

Waste of Electricity
Leaving a computer on overnight may not use a lot of electricity, especially if your computer and monitor support the "Energy Saver" features that are standard on most new computers. But make no mistake: over the course of months and years, quite a lot of electricity is wasted. If you are a homeowner or you manage a small business on a budget, this is no small concern. Turn it off.

 

Security: Internet
If your computer accesses the Internet through a modem, this section does not apply. However, if you use DSL, a cable modem, or have "always-on" Internet access at work, your computer may be an open target for a hacker. If your computer is connected to the Internet even when you aren't sitting at it, turn it off to prevent access from outsiders.

 

Security: Network
If you work in a networked office, leaving your computer on may not be a bad thing, but leaving your computer on while you are stilled logged in to your company's network is a VERY BAD thing. Make sure you log out every night.

 

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