Type: Exploratory
Pages: 9 | Words: 2446
Reading Time: 11 Minutes

Computer security issues are often neglected by regular users. The main argument for not paying any attention to security issues is “I just don’t have anything to hide”. It is quite possible that you are a very open and honest person and there is nothing you would like to hide. However, in our digital era, many spheres of our life have become heavily influenced by computers. In this paper, a few possible scenarios when taking care of your computer security becomes truly important will be discussed.

All of us have got accounts on Facebook or other similar social networks. And we do love sharing our photos with our friends. Some of the photos or sayings you are sharing on the net may be of quite informal nature. And you would not like your colleagues or your boss to find them. Apart from that, there could be people around who might be interested in publishing your personal data or bringing those to your co-workers. Besides, we all have credit cards and online banking is becoming more and more popular. If your password for online banking is weak, then hackers can easily steal it and, therefore, steal all the money you have got on your account.

We write a lot online, and we never know which exact data may be used against us. Every contemporary person has got an email account. In fact, the majority of people have got a few of those. One of them is the most important one: you write it in your CV when applying for a job; you put it on your business cards, etc. And what if the email all your business gets attacked by hackers?

Some people do not understand why somebody would be interested in stealing their passwords or their email accounts. There is no exact answer to this question. The fact is that, even if nobody really needs your particular email account for any given reason, there are still people around who do it for fun. Just for the sake of it. The majority of such people are teenagers or unemployed who appear to have some knowledge in the IT sphere and entertain themselves by means of stealing other peoples’ emails.

Even if nobody steals your email or your online banking details, there is still likelihood that your computer gets infected with some virus and breaks down. And this sort of thing may happen at a very inconvenient moment. Just imagine that tomorrow is the deadline for a very important project and today you all of a sudden you find out that your machine is not working properly because of some virus or malware attack.

It is quite clear that computer security matters need to be taken seriously by everyone. It is just the same as getting dressed properly when leaving home in bad weather. You may look perfect and have nothing to hide, but that is not the reason for catching a cold. And your apartment may look great and you may have nothing to hide there, but this is not the reason for leaving it unlocked. Someone may come and steal a bed you sleep in or damage your nicely painted walls just for fun.

Now we will address two very specific situations, which belong to the everyday life of an average person. We will see what sort of dangers are there to be expected and will find possible ways to prevent anything unwanted from happening.

Case 1 – Online banking security issues

Let us consider a situation when a person – just an average user – purchases a new computer for his/her household. The computer is delivered and all ready-to-go. The only thing left to do is connecting it to the Internet and switching the power on. For the convenience of our discussion, we will consider the operating system installed on the PC to be Windows. One of the most important threads which have to do with computer security issues for an average user is definitely the thread having to do with online banking security. Of course, almost every person nowadays uses computers and Internet channel in order to remotely perform different operations with their banking accounts. It is convenient both for the user and the banking institution. The client does not have to go to the bank or even call their customer support service, while the bank saves on the number of workers who need to be hired. However, just like anything else on Earth, online banking has got its advantages and disadvantages. One of the most serious and important disadvantages is that an experienced hacker will be able to steal your money from your account. Yet, the same refers to paper money in your pocket. Unless you take necessary security measures, the money is going to be stolen. So, unpacking the computer, its owner needs to make sure that the system and all the software is set to prevent him from any unfortunate situations having to do with online banking. The first thing is configuring your system.

When configuring settings for your email client, be sure to turn the fishing filters on. Fishing is an attempt to get your personal information. You may receive an email requesting you to follow the link to a web site, which looks like your bank’s web site, and enter your username and password for online banking. Then the person who sent this email to you will receive everything he/she needs to enter your account and shop all he/she wants on your behalf. In the majority of modern online banking systems, there are additional security measures applied such as SMS confirmation codes or purchasing a set of one-time passwords from the bank’s ATM. In this case, you would be requested, after you successfully enter your username and password, to enter your dynamic password number, for instance. Only then you would be able to enter your account. Each transaction will also require confirmations via SMS or in any other similar way. Large banks constantly work on ensuring security of their clients. However, it is not the reason for you as a client to neglect simple rules of online banking security. And so, we turn the fishing filter on.

In general, it is better to type the web address of your online banking system manually, right into the address bar of your browser. Do not follow any links from any emails. In case you did follow the link, look at the address bar and make hundred percent sure that the web address you can see there is the web address of your bank. Check every character of the address.

Now, since we have mentioned internet browsers, let us say a few words about their settings, which would provide you with maximum online banking security. First of all, you need to make sure that you are using the newest version of your preferred browser. You should not disable your browser’s security features. You should disable the function of password remembering at least for your online banking website. This is a must if you are using a public computer. Otherwise, someone may access your account even without any effort. A few clicks of a mouse and your money travels far away, to someone else’s account.

When entering the secure zone of your bank’s web site, you can highlight the address bar and it will show you the information about SSL certificate used by it. SSL certificate is assigned to the companies by the third parties, which are obliged to check information about the company before assigning an SSL certificate to them. SSL encryption is very much like sending a letter in an envelope which is sealed and hides its content from other people who may occasionally see it. SSL encryption is the process of encoding and decoding information. It makes your information confidential, even though it is traveling through public web channels.

A very important part of your online banking security is your password. Traditionally, you are the one who assigns the password to your account. Many people mistakenly believe that this password needs to be simple. It is easier to remember such a password. But in real fact, you need to make sure that your password is complex and impossible to guess. It should not contain any birth dates, names of your relatives or friends, and so on. A strong password needs to be at least ten characters long and contain both characters of lower and upper cases and numbers.

You should not keep your passwords or account information saved on your hard disk. If you make up your mind to do so, the file needs to have a weird name, for nobody to be able to guess what it contains.

Another very important part of online banking security is using proper antivirus and firewall software. It may not be a bad idea to use Online Armor or Firewall (it has got a special online banking mode) in combination with synaptic antivirus software. Synaptic is also known for their secure online banking work-outs. When starting your online banking session, you should not forget to switch your firewall into online banking mode.

You should under no circumstances tell your confidential banking information to any parties. Do not write your account numbers or passwords in emails, chats or publish them at online forums. You should always install the latest updates and patches recommended by Microsoft. You need to keep in mind that being the most popular operating system for PCs and laptops, Windows is the most common target for hackers’ attacks. And the majority of updates and patches offered by Microsoft are aimed at increasing the users’ security level.

Unfortunately, many people neglect security issues, and in the final score, they are punished for their negligence. Many people are in search of easy ways of getting money, and there is always someone ready to take advantage of somebody’s careless behavior. A person who does not observe necessary online banking security rules is a perfect victim for money hunters. They will either transfer the money of such a person to different accounts or will make purchases online on behalf of such a person. And it is good if you notice it soon. Your bank may be able to do something about it and make an effort to return your money to you. But there are cases when it is too late. In any case, it is the sort of situation you want to avoid since it will cost you a lot of time and nerve. Besides, even in a case, the bank is able to return your money, you will still have to do without it for a while.

Case 2 – Exploring Facebook

Social networks have become an integral part of contemporary life. Many people communicate only through social networks. There is a large field for discussions as to whether it is good or not. And, of course, there will be benefits and there will be a large number of disadvantages. However, it is not what needs to be taken into consideration. Social networking, like any other activity, presupposes certain dangers. And a smart user will definitely do his/her best in order to stay away from those dangers. Let us consider a practical case. There is a family, and, supposing the husband and the wife are very smart and careful users of the Internet, but they have a son, a kid in his mid-teens. And he, just like adults, wants to have a Facebook account. He believes himself to be grown-up enough for that. Of course, he has a point. And parents should allow him to have his own account on the most popular social network. But smart parents will also do some explaining before their kid starts exploring Facebook.

The first thing which needs to be explained is that there is information that should not be published on the Web. Credit card numbers, numbers of other accounts, passwords for personal email accounts, and any other passwords should be published under no circumstances. The kid may argue saying that he has got nothing confidential enough to hide. It is very important to explain to him that his life situation may change with time and information which has been published once on the Internet is very hard or, rather say, impossible to be hidden again. The first thing to keep in mind is that Facebook has got its own security settings. When sending certain confidential information to somebody, the kid needs to make sure that it is invisible to any third party.

It is important to always log out of the account, especially when using public computers. Otherwise, somebody may simply change your password and steal the account. It will not cost that person any effort.

The child should be advised to be very careful with the photos and videos he publishes. First of all, if it is not the files created, shot, or recorded by him, copyright law may be applied against a person who publishes such materials. And it is wrong to think that it is not a very likely scenario. However, if the child is willing to publish his own photo, it is important to explain that once it is published, every single person on Earth will be able to see it. The main guideline to follow here is: “Make sure there is not a single person in the world whom you would not like to see this picture/video”. Even if the child thinks that there is no such person at the moment, he needs to be taught to think ahead. He needs to realize that, in the future, there might be people whom he would not really like to see it.

The child needs to know: being an adult stands for having the right to develop a Facebook account. But it also puts some responsibility upon you. It is the responsibility before other people, and, first of all, before your own self. And one needs to be ready for this responsibility and everything it is followed with.

Computer security matters need to be taken seriously by both children and adults. Not observing the rules of computer security in different fields can lead – and very frequently they do lead – to very unfortunate consequences. This is why, from the very childhood, people need to learn and firmly remember the rules and principles of computer security. Just like remembering to lock your own dwelling, just like remembering to turn off the water in your apartment when leaving it, just like that, you need to remember to log out of all your accounts when using public computers and never provide anybody with your passwords or account information. If you follow these guidelines, computers will always be helpful. But neglecting those simple rules can lead to negative consequences.

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