Computer Security

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Computer Security
Victoria M. Deardorff
Brevard Community College
April 10, 2012

This paper is written as a basic overview of computer security for the non-technical user. This paper is meant to educate the reader on practical steps that can be implemented to secure their home-based computers. Additionally, the reader will be informed of industry and government needs for and methods of computer security. With this information, the reader should gain a better understanding of why agencies and companies have their rules and regulations pertaining to computer security.

What do you think when you read or hear the words “computer security”? The word security implies freedom from risk, danger, doubt, anxiety, or fear and invokes a feeling of safety and confidence. As security relates to our computers, you may immediately ask yourself if you have done everything possible to guard your personal computer as well as the information stored on that computer. Also, you may think about the companies with which you do business and ask the same question; have they done everything possible to protect my personal information? The world of computer security or information security, as it is sometimes called, continues to evolve as consumers expand the use of computer systems.

“The story of network attacks, bugs, viruses, and criminal actions stretches as far as the computer industry itself. One of the first bugs to develop in a computer system was precisely that: a moth was found squished inside some relay contacts at a government installation. Lieutenant Grace Hopper collected that moth and duly pasted it into the facility logbook.” (Gangemi, 2011) Our current world of computer malware, spyware and identity theft has made it necessary for government, industry, and individual users to be more aware of computer security than ever before. “Security is the ability of a system to protect information and system resources with respect to confidentiality and integrity.” (Ross, 1999) In the early years, systems were kept in what could have been referred to as a glass house where constant cooling, electricity and protection from vandalism was provided. They were protected and alarmed as part of the general building security. Security focused on break-ins that might include vandalism or theft of computer equipment. Today, we have desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones that cannot be kept in glass houses. Whatever form your computer(s) have, how do you begin to protect them and the information they contain? You must start with a plan to protect and be prepared to restore your computer(s) and the data they house before there is ever a need. Computer Security for the Home Computer

Protecting your personal computer is a never ending task. Whether you use a home system, one at your place of employment or both, it is your responsibility to educate yourself concerning the growing need of computer security. Following are steps to protecting your home computer(s): 1. Notebook computers, along with any mobile device, should be kept under a watchful eye at all times. 2. Use a strong password which is the first line of defense against unauthorized access to your computer. A strong password is at least eight characters long, does not contain a complete word or your real name, is very different from previously used passwords and contains characters from uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, symbols on the keyboard and spaces. 3. Backup your system in the event there is a natural disaster, power failure, disk failure, accidently deleted files or your system is subjected to theft. The easiest way to perform a backup on your home system is to use any USB external hard drive and the built-in Windows or MAC software. Store this backup in a place that would not be subject to the above mentioned disasters. A fireproof and waterproof safe would be one recommendation. 4. Install system patches as they are...
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