How to Keep Your Computer Safe From Hackers

computer security

Did you know that the more you spend time on the Internet, the more vulnerable your computer becomes to hackers, viruses and malicious programs? In fact, a recent report showed that in the first ten minutes of being online, a computer could be exposed to 10,000 different types of threats.

One way to protect your computer is to install an antivirus program. This is software that could detect viruses and prevent them from infecting your computer.

But this is only one way. There are many kinds of computer threats that a mere antivirus program cannot completely stop.

In this report, you will learn more about how to increase the level of security in your home computer and protect your information from being stolen or compromised.


Consider this your first line of defense against computer security threats. Basically, a firewall works by enforcing security measures in your network to decide who can access your computer. This prevents outside intruders from maliciously accessing your computer system and tampering with its settings or your hard drive.

Moreover firewalls can help control how people within your network access outside resources. In other words, it can reinforce your existing surf control so that certain unsecured websites remain inaccessible from within your network for greater protection.

However, like every other type of software, not all firewall programs are the same. Some may have more features than others. Some are free. Some are not. Some may contain features that are not present in others, and vice versa.

Understand that when it comes to choosing software programs, like firewalls, the rule of thumb is this: the more features, the better. Common sense will tell you that a catch-all program is better than a program that is dedicated to solving only one security issue.

Then again, the inherent weakness in full-suite solutions is that since they target broad security issues, they might not be quite as efficient as system and problem-specific software in dealing with a particular issue. And you, the buyer, will therefore be left with the same old question: which one can give your home computer more protection?

Read on to find out.

Need Assessment

When deciding to buy a firewall program, the first question to ask is what you need it for.

If you are a home surfer who spends maybe two to six hours a day on the Internet, then you probably do not need sophisticated software for security purposes. In fact, you can probably do with a free firewall program to protect your computer.

On the other hand, if you run a business, then you need to consider other factors, including the following:

  • Size of the business
  • Type of data traffic
  • Expectations for rapid growth
  • Number of mobile workers
  • IT budget

By considering all these factors, you can save money down the road, as well as successfully prevent an attack on your computer network.

For example, if you expect rapid growth of business in the next few years, then it is advisable that you go with a firewall program that is highly scalable. That way, you only need to do upgrades for your existing program to handle increased network traffic and additional clients.

Another significant factor is the capability of your IT staff as this will help you determine how complex your firewall program should be.

Hardware vs. Software Firewall

There are advantages to both types of firewall program. For hardware firewall, for instance, its main advantage is that its set up is much easier and deployment much faster to accomplish than software firewalls. Moreover, hardware firewalls make your system less susceptible to outside attacks because it has its own embedded code built into an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). The dedicated ASIC also helps process traffic much faster.

On the other hand, while software firewalls are less easy to set up and to deploy, they are nevertheless easier to upgrade compared to hardware firewalls. As such, software firewalls are recommended if your network is complex and makes use of multiple interfaces.


For an effective antivirus program, you need a program that has adopts a two-pronged approach to fighting viruses – that is, it not only scans all incoming emails but also runs on your desktop to provide real-time protection.

As with firewalls, there are two types of antivirus programs. They are available as hardware appliances or as traditional software packages.

For hardware antivirus, they can range from low-end programs with multifunction capabilities but not very configurable to high-end devices that are highly configurable for complex networks.

Software antivirus solutions are, as always, infinitely configurable. However, the downside to them is that the higher the level of configurability of the package, the more complex it is to set up. So your choice would really depend on how far you are willing to go in order to improve the level of security of your computer.

If you are knowledgeable about software set up and installation, then you should probably try the more complex software packages. However, if you only know the basics, then you are better off with a simple antivirus solution.

In either case, the important thing to remember is that you get the most out of a given antivirus program.

Update Your Antivirus As Often As Possible

With new viruses created and propagated over the Internet every minute of every day, your antivirus program is only as good as the next update. Setup your antivirus program so that it will automatically update its files and configuration settings.

Enable Real-Time Scanning

This will allow your antivirus program to check any incoming mails or files for viruses before they even hit your hard drive.

Perform Regular Antivirus Scans

Also, you should scan all files in your computer, including but not limited to the following:

  • Image files
  • Streaming video clips
  • Audio snippets
  • Executable files
  • Compressed file types: ARJ, LHA, LZH, ZIP, RAR


Unlike viruses and worms which can be very destructive, spam is relatively harmless. The problem with spam is that when they become too many, they can load up your server and eventually lead to a system crash down.

Anti-spam comes in two types. You can either purchase them as standalone products or as appliances. However, unlike antivirus programs which are relatively stable and uniform, anti-spam products remain different. As such, they require a lot of configuration and management in order for you to get the most out of them.

One thing you should always remember: get an anti-spam solution that combines several technologies with filtering-engine capabilities. Examples of these technologies are Byesian, heuristic, and sieve filters.

Here are more tips to help deal with spam issues in your network:

If you run a small business, consider outsourcing your anti-spam solution.

This is especially advisable if you lack IT support. By going with a service, you can avoid many headaches, such as configuration of the anti-spam device, management of spam queues, and restoring an employee’s mail system which was mistakenly caught by the anti-spam program. These little things can be left to someone from the outside so you can focus your attention on propagating and letting your business grow.

Appliance Anti-spam Device

As with any other security products, there are two kinds of anti-spam devices – ones you can purchase as standalone products and as appliances. Appliance anti-spam device is recommended if you want total control of your email and you have the expertise.

You can set up your own gateway-filtering device which can detect spam and stop it before it can get past your LAN.

Discourage Use of Work Email Addresses

Spambots are always crawling the Internet in search of email addresses to spam. They often search in newsletter sign-ups, registration forms, and forums which are often a rich source of email addresses. To avoid having your work email address picked up by one of these spambots, it is best if you avoid using your work email address when you sign up for anything on the Internet.

If you own a small business and you have people under your employ, encourage them not to use their work email address when they fill up registration forms online or sign up for newsletters. Moreover, do not publish your employees’ email address on your website.

Enable Black Lists

Most spam filter systems allow you to enable or disable black lists. This is a feature wherein you can maintain a database of known spam senders and domains, so that the next time your system encounters spam, the anti-spam will immediately match it up with the database entries to determine whether or not it is spam.

Note that some anti-spam programs allow you to add your own known spam entry into the database.

Enable White Lists

Basically an “allow list”, white lists are the most restrictive filtering systems for anti-spam. The program only allows those addresses and domains which are in your contacts lists. Those mails that come from unknown addresses will automatically get into your suspected mail folder, allowing you to review them and selectively determine if they are spam or not.

Moreover, the person who sent you that suspected mail will receive a verification email which they would have to fill up in order to be allowed into your “allow list.”

These are only three of the products available to improve the security of your computer. However, the real key to maintaining your network security is not really on your existing security products installed but on how well your patch management is. Always remember that your security software is only as good as the next update. So it is important to always update your security patches to keep up with the speed with which new viruses and worms can take advantage of new vulnerabilities in your system.

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Car Security

car security top tips

 10 Ways to “Theft-Proof” Your Car

Your car is probably one of the biggest investments you have ever made. Therefore, it is only natural that you want to protect it. But how? This is where car security systems come in.

There are different types of security devices you can use on your car. Some work by attaching them to your gear stick. Others can be fit across the steering wheel. Still, there are others that use wheel clamps, or any combination of these devices.

While these devices may decrease the likelihood of car theft, it is not unknown for thieves to find a loophole or a weak spot in common car security devices.

Many car security devices can be unlocked or easily removed in mere seconds. This is not to say, however, that you should put off using any of these devices. What they offer is added security, and there are some devices that are indeed very effective in deterring thieves, leaving you with the question: Which ones are effective and which ones aren’t?

#1. Get a car alarm or install immobilizers.

If your car is new, then chances are that it already comes with a built-in car alarm and immobilizer. In fact, this is one of the reasons why there has been a significant drop in theft of newer cars over the past years.

However, in case your car does not have any of these basic security devices, here are other options that you have.

A car alarm operates by preventing both car theft and theft from your vehicle. Immobilizers, on the other hand, prevent the engine from starting. Both are highly effective as deterrents to car theft, and when combined, their efficiency increases.

It is possible for a car to have a car alarm but no immobilizer. If you want to install an immobilizer as well, you can fit one into your car. The same goes if your car only has an engine immobilizer.

#2. Prevent car breakdowns.

There is no way of telling if your car is going to break down on a particular trip. This is all the more reason for you to take positive steps in preventing breakdowns as much as possible.

When your car breaks down, you feel vulnerable, especially if it happens in a dark, isolated place. You are on your own and help is a long way off. Even if you know cars, this does not guarantee your safety because it would be difficult for you to keep your guard when you are busy changing tire or checking the hood of the car.

To help you feel a little safer in case of a car breakdown, be sure to follow up on your weekly car maintenance checks, including oil, water, and other engine fluids. In addition, check to see if the tire pressures are sufficient and whether there is enough petrol. Also, stop at a refilling well before your gauge runs low.

If your car breaks down and help is on the way, it is often recommended that you stay inside the car. However, this rule does not always apply, especially when the breakdown occurs in a motorway. In which case, get out of the car on the passenger side and wait.

It is less risky to stand outside and away from the car than to sit on the hard shoulder where you are more likely to fall into harm if your car is struck by another vehicle.

If it is dark, be sure to turn on your car’s hazard warning lights. If you are on a motorway, there should be marker posts every 100 meters that point you to the nearest telephone.

#3. Keep your car things out of plain view.

One word: temptation.

When you leave your valuable possessions in your car and in plain view, you are only tempting thieves to break in and steal them. Do not give them the opportunity to do so. Do not give them a reason to break in.

What are the valuables usually kept in cars and will catch a thief’s attention? These include:

  • Car stereos
  • CDs and tapes
  • Tools
  • Laptop computers
  • Mobile phones
  • Bags
  • Briefcases
  • Clothes
  • Sunglasses
  • Credit cards
  • Tax disks

For in-car entertainment systems, most new cars have a built-in security system. For instance, car stereos may have removable faces which you can carry around when you have to leave the car.

Another security feature for car entertainment systems is a built-in security code. The code is needed for the stereo to work in case it is removed and installed in a different car.

#4. Get security etching.

Another way to secure your car is through the VIN. You might recall your car dealer giving you a 17-digit number. This number is called the VIN (registration number) and it is very important because it identifies your car and distinguishes it from other cars.

The VIN is often etched on the window of your car and other parts of the vehicle. This is actually useful for the police to match the vehicle with its parts so that they can identify the rightful owner.

In addition to the VIN, most new cars also have a special code which manufacturers use to match up the car with its chassis.

Older cars may not have this security etching at this disposal, but don’t worry. There are many companies that sell car window glass and windscreen with free security etching included.

#5. Incorporate a GPS tracking system in your vehicle.

Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite navigational system that allows a person to accurately determine the location of any GPS receiver (GPSr) anywhere on Earth.

As used in vehicle tracking system, a GPS receiver is installed in the vehicle “covertly” – that is, the receiver is usually hidden from view and no warning notices are placed on the car indicating that it has a tracking device.

The GPS receiver operates by transmitting a special radio signal which the satellite can decipher and send back to the police who will then be able to track the car. Only in the event of a car theft or when the owner reports that his car is missing will the GPS system be activated.

Granted that GPS is a sophisticated piece of security equipment, and thus, may require a big investment on your part, it by far the most advanced car security system out there with a 99% chance of recovery.

#6. Never leave your keys in the car.

Even if you are only out of the car for five minutes. Or you are only taking shopping bags from the car into your house. Or you are only dropping something off at the post office. One word: DON’T. Never give thieves the opportunity to steal the keys of your car.

Thieves these days are getting smarter and smarter. Instead of breaking in and then starting the car manually, they will just steal the keys to your car. Sure, it requires a different kind of daring, but thieves will take every opportunity thrown their way if it means they will have an easier time stealing things that don’t belong to them.

In addition to stealing keys that are left in the car, some thieves will try to take keys from bags or pockets. In some cases, they might even steal the keys right from your home.

In one study conducted by the Metropolitan Police, the figures showed that majority of the car key crimes occur when people are loading or unloading their cars, while in 29% of cases, said crimes occur in people’s homes.

To avoid being a victim of car key crime, treat the keys of your car as you would your other personal belongings, such as your credit cards or cash. And when you are at home or at work, make sure that you keep them in a secure place.

#7. Be careful of where you park your car.

The parking lot and where it is located is very important for your car’s safety, as well as yours. That is why you need to carefully choose where you park your car.

You will recognize a fairly secure parking lot if it has good lighting and better surveillance. If you are in a hurry and there is no secured parking lot anywhere, just park in an area that is quite busy and well lit, especially at night.

If you can, reverse into the parking space. This will make it easier for you to get away quickly in case of an emergency. Also, if the car park is multi-storey, choose a parking space that is closer to the exit. As much as possible, park away from pillars.

#8. Be on your guard when filling up your car with petrol.

Recent studies show that car thefts and assaults in petrol stations are rising. So you should always be careful when you stop at a petrol station to fill up your car.

To help citizens like you minimize opportunities for crime, here are a few simple measures that you can take:

  • When you leave your car at the pump to pay for fuel, be sure to lock your car.
  • If you have a child, don’t leave him or her in the vehicle unattended. This is an important reminder for parents with very young children.
  • Always take the car key with you.
  • When you leave the car to pay, be sure not to leave any valuable possessions in the car in plain view.

#9. Read up on vehicle theft and how to protect your car.

One must understand that vehicle theft is more than just a crime committed by teenagers out for a joyride. It is a huge crime committed by organized criminals. If all of us would take proactive steps, then we can all help in putting the brakes on car theft.

#10. Beware of the “bump and rob” criminal.

In recent years, car thieves have come up with ingenious ways to steal vehicles. One of the more recent ones is when they intentionally bump into the rear of your car. When this happens, the natural thing to do is to get out so you can look at the damage. The thief will then take this opportunity to steal your car.

This kind of “bump and rob” crime often happens with executive cars, but it always pays to be careful. If you feel a threat, then do not hesitate to call the police.

All of the above steps are only preventive measures. Like most problems in this world, there is no sure-fire way to solve the crime of car theft. But by being careful and taking steps to minimize opportunities for criminals to do crime, then you can rest assured that you are contributing a great deal to stopping car theft once and for all.

And if all else fails, be sure to get a good car insurance policy. This is your safety net, so be sure to choose a good, reliable insurance company, one that won’t give you the run-around when something bad happens.

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