There has been an astonishing proliferation of Internet connected computers in the last decade. Huge numbers of businesses and individuals are “hooked up” and able to access information and use information technology available worldwide. Along with the benefits, however, this technology brings come some definite risks. Unauthorized parties can easily access the information on your computer unless protective measures are taken.
Studies show that it is fairly easy to gain unauthorized access to information in an insecure networked environment, which is how most of us operate. It is extremely difficult to catch intruders. A report published in 1997 by CERT (a registered trademark from Carnegie Mellon Institute) details the types of security breaches and makes it clear that nobody is immune from computer abuse. It happens at banks, insurance companies, hospitals, and private homes. When this report was published, the statistics showed that there were only 100 security incidents involving computers in 1988 and, by 1995, there had been 2,500. Obviously there is exponential growth in this situation from 1995 to the present day.
One of the biggest news stories regarding security was recently reported on eWeek.com. This story details a vulnerability in Apple Computer’s Safari Web browser and worms that target the OS X operating system. This obviously affects computers not running on the Windows operating system. What can you do to protect yourself?
There are several methods used to make data safer on home and business computers. Passwords, access control files and keys, and encryption algorithms are often used to minimize the risk of intrusion. Several products are offered online which can help individuals and businesses assess their computer intrusion risk. Janco Associates, Inc. produces a security manual that is 178 pages in length. It includes a questionnaire to establish the threat and vulnerability to your computer system. Part of this service is an update to the manual for 18 months, as new risks are introduced into the online highway.
Microsoft offers security updates for Windows users. “Window Defender” scans your system to remove unwanted software. Microsoft’s website offers tools and tips on how to scan and clean your computer to rid it of unwanted information that can damage your systems and result in a loss of information. There are products available like Symantec AntiVirus (which Gateway calls its best deal) to clean up security issues. Any software product with “anti-virus” in its name is probably a safe bet.
We are in an age of incredible computer technology, but as more and more people avail themselves of this privilege, the risk of intrusion is increased. Don’t let your information fall into the wrong hands. Take steps to protect yourself today.