Keeping Your Home Computer Safe and Secure
Helix Technologies is French Lick, Indiana’s premiere residential Internet service provider and wants to help you keep your home computer safe and secure from viruses and hackers that may be threatening your personal information. This is part 3 of our 5 part series on simple things you can do to keep you and the private materials on your computer safe from an attack.
In our ongoing efforts to keep you safe and secure online, we’ve talked about antivirus software and antispyware. Now, we’re going to look at a few more safety precautions you can take, and the easiest ways to do so.
This really goes without saying, but make sure you download all critical Windows updates. These are frequently security patches, released as the dangers are found. The easiest thing to do is set up automatic updates. This way you never miss an update, and if you set it to update overnight, it all updates and the computer reboots without you even noticing.
The term “firewall” can be a little intimidating for some people, but it’s a very simple concept. A firewall does just what it sounds like: it creates a barrier between your computer or home network and the Internet at large. Why is this important? When your ISP sets up your connection, it assigns you an IP address. Usually, it’s a public address, which means that anyone, anywhere online can access it, for any reason. A firewall blocks any traffic coming in that doesn’t match up with a request you made, thereby protecting your system from other computers trying to access it.
Windows has a firewall system built in, and as long as you keep everything set to medium security or higher, it’s effective. If you manually set it to low security, it will tell you that’s a bad idea, and if you choose to keep it there, you will not be fully protected. Another option is simply to install a router. Most homes today have at least one or two devices that use WiFi (cell phones, tablets, iPods, laptops, etc.), so the wireless router has become commonplace. Almost any router will have a firewall function you can configure. A router also takes on the public IP address assigned by your ISP, and issues private addresses to devices on your network. This means that no device on your network can be accessed from the outside, and provides another layer of protection. If you use a wireless router, make sure to configure a wireless network name and password! This protects your bandwidth from piggybackers, but it also ensures your firewall functions properly. Any device can connect to an unsecured wireless network from hundreds of feet away, and once a device is on your network, a firewall will think it belongs to you, so it won’t block access to other devices.
This may sound like a lot, but it’s really just a few minutes to set things up the first time. Helix Technologies has more information coming – check back for more security tips!