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Security tips

Your computer systems are likely to be the most exposed part of your business.  Your computer network is always being targeted wether you realize it or not.  The most vulnerable point is usually your connection to the internet.  Specially crafted web pages can take advantage of unpatched vulnerabilities to steal your personal data or take over the system without your knowledge.  E-mail messages can contain attachments with different kinds of malware that will do unpleasant things to your computer system.

Lately, one of the preferred methods to install malware on your system, is to get you to do it yourself.  Unscrupulous individuals will try to trick people into installing something on your PC.  When browsing the internet, be a skeptic - just because a window pops up telling you that you need to install some security software, doesn't mean that you really need to.  Do some research before installing any of this crap.  You probably don't need any kind of 'download accelerator' or 'virus removal tool' or 'registry cleaner' that pops up on a web page.  The next extension of this trickery is called Phishing where someone will try to directly get you to give up personal information.  Don't be fooled!

Don't disable the security features that have been built into the software that you use.  Unfortunately, some of it may seem like a bit of an inconvenience , but it's there for your protection. 

Windows Update - Use Microsoft Windows Update to install security fixes automatically.  Microsoft releases security updates through the automatic update mechanism every month or sooner.  These updates usually contain fixes for vulnerabilities that have been discovered and should be patched as soon as possible.  Don't be fooled by e-mails that claim to be from Microsoft & contain a security patch.  MS never delivers updates by e-mail.  Don't disable Windows automatic updates and do run it manually once in a while to make sure you're not missing any security patches.

Antivirus Software - Use a known, reliable real-time antivirus scanner. Don't let the lisence lapse and do verify that the definitions are up to date.  Double check your systems monthly with a free online antivirus scan (several of these scan for other forms of malware like spyware).  Run a Windows Live Safety Scan monthly.  In addition to an antivirus double-check, the will clean some possible problems with the Windows registry.

Windows Defender - Windows Defender is an anti-spyware utility that included with Vista and is a free download for XP.  Manually run a full scan from time to time.  Other good anti-spyware products are Lavasoft's Ad-aware and Spybot-Search & Destroy (neither of these are free for corporate use, though).  There are several websites that have aquired similar domain names with hopes of catching people looking for these products.  Once again, don't be fooled by look-alikes; make sure you know what you're installing.

Wireless networking - If you have a wireless network, use WPA-PSK encryption with a secure, random key (I suggest 20 characters minimum).  Despite what you may have been told in the past, WEP is no longer considered secure.  It only takes a few seconds for a skilled cracker to break WEP encryption.  Absolutely do not leave your wireless network open!  Even if your system is secure, someone with an infected computer could unknowingly send spam & virii from your network!