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SAFEGUARDING COMPUTER SECURITY (08/15/2005)
 

Home Internet users have a one-in-three chance of suffering computer damage, financial loss or both because of a computer virus or spyware, according to the 2005 Consumer Reports State of the Net survey of online consumers. Computer users who take the right precautions can greatly reduce exposure to online hazards. Consumer Reports notes that the most immediate help for consumers is from some leading Internet service providers. Many provide antivirus protection and filter out spam and phishing e-mail before it reaches the user. The experts at Consumer Reports recommend the following steps and practices to safeguard computer security.

  • Upgrade the operating system. Windows® XP users should enable automatic updates and install Service Pack 2. Mac users should update with the Software Update Control Panel.
  • Use a firewall. Windows XP has one built in, and a router most likely has one built in.
  • Adjust browser security settings to medium or higher.
  • Consider an ISP or e-mail provider that offers security.
  • Use antivirus software.
  • Use more than one antispyware program, which can boost coverage.
  • Regularly back up personal files that safeguard data in case of a security problem.
  • Beware while browsing. Be wary of ad-sponsored or "free" giveaways. They probably include spyware.
  • Avoid short passwords to foil password-cracking software.
  • Use e-mail cautiously. Never open an attachment unless you are expecting it.
  • Use multiple e-mail addresses so you can drop one when it attracts too much spam.
  • Take a stand. Don't buy anything promoted in a spam message.
  • Look for secure Web sites that show an icon of an unbroken key or a lock that's closed at the bottom of the page.


 


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