Hackers certainly seem to be everywhere. In February, the news media reported that Google – one of the world’s largest and most influential companies – had fallen victim to a hacker attack, their security systems breached and private files accessed by Chinese cracking groups based out of a Shanghai university.
The online giant is certainly taking the attacks seriously, ramping up security and eliminating the use of Microsoft operating systems throughout their offices. But if even the world’s biggest, most influential, and supposedly secure companies can fall victim to hacker attacks, where does that leave most PC users? Home computer security is a largely misunderstood field, one that can prove particularly dangerous and vulnerable.
We’ve taken a retrospective look at some of the world’s biggest PC security controversies; the ‘ILOVEYOU’ spam virus, the outbreak of Nigerian confidence scams, and the near endless use of trojan horses and remote installers for computer control. We walked away with three essential security truths, each a tip in itself. If you’re concerned about PC security, be sure to give them a look.
- Email isn’t the biggest risk. Approach everything with caution.
There’s a common assumption, particularly amongst casual PC users, that email is the root of all security-related issues. From hacker attacks to computer viruses, the news media’s insistence on pining email as the problem source has pushed millions of computer owners to apply unnecessarily harsh policies to their inbox.
In reality, the bulk of hacks, viruses, and malicious programs arrive through browser vulnerabilities and unsecured networks. Start by being vigilant everywhere – applying security measures to every piece of online software – and don’t let the ’email is everything’ mindset affect your security.
- Hardware is inherently risky. Treat it well and ensure your data is backed up.
Surprisingly, the most prominent and devastating cause of data loss isn’t viruses, hackers, or insecure network connections, but failing hardware and damaged PC equipment. From corrupt hard drives to scratched DVDs, the leading causes of data loss and crucial system errors all stem from mistreatment and unintentional damage.
Treat your hardware well, and always keep backups ready. Whether on disc or on a remote hard drive, a once-monthly backup of your personal data, business information, and private files can prevent you losing out not just to hackers and security breaches, but to failed hardware and broken PC equipment.
- Windows isn’t the only option. Consider alternative software.
In response to the Chinese hacking attempts, Google recently announced new security measures throughout their offices. The California-based company will require their employees to use alternative operating systems, offering employees the option Apple hardware paired with OSX or standard computer hardware outfitted with Unix-based operating systems.
It’s a choice that’s becoming increasingly common. As security becomes more vital for online companies and home users, a growing number of technology power users are dropping Windows in favour of more secure operating systems. While it’s certainly not the only option, switching to a new operating system can help you avoid viruses, become less of a target for hackers, and keep your personal information more secure.