Computer Security Maintenance Information and Self-Check Activities

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1 Computer Security Maintenance Information and Self-Check Activities Overview Unlike what many people think, computers are not designed to be maintenance free. Just like cars they need routine maintenance. And like cars if treated well they run better. To keep your machine running well and better yet, running securely, make sure you know some basic maintenance skills and practice proactive prevention. Take this time to review the following information and use the self-checks to make sure you re correctly maintaining a secure computer and modeling good cyber security behaviors. Getting Started This reference and activity covers 4 main areas of computer security maintenance: 1. Firewall protection 2. Operating system updates 3. Anti-virus programs 4. Anti-spyware programs` For each item covered, the following is provided: 1. What: What the item is; definitions, background information etc. 2. Why: Why you need to be aware i.e. what can happen if you don t take precautions 3. When: When you need to take the following steps some you should do every day, others are simple things to run once a month. 4. How: How to perform each step. You ll be provided with information about free programs or software to download to take care of many of these tasks i-safe Inc. Security Maintenance 1

2 Security System Check 1: Firewall Protection Goal: Understand the necessity of computer firewall protection, and understand the status of firewall protection on your computer. Computer Windows Platform Internet Connection 1. What: A firewall is simply a program or hardware device that filters the information coming through your Internet connection into your computer. A firewall, depending on how it is set up, provides protection from a variety of dangers including information from offensive Web sites and potential hackers. 2. Why: All Internet communication is accomplished by the exchange of individual "packets" of data. Each packet is transmitted by its source machine toward its destination machine. Your computer, if connected to the Internet, is being attacked at least a few hundred times an hour by malicious data. If an incoming packet of information is flagged by the filters as potentially harmful, it is not allowed through. 3. When: Many late model Windows and Mac operating systems have built-in firewalls. Example: If you are using Windows XP, you have firewall protection. Additionally your broadband service provider probably has firewall protection for the system. 4. How: If you are concerned that your computer doesn t have a firewall, call your service provider to check on what kind of protection they have provided. There are two basic types of firewalls to choose from: software or hardware. Software firewalls are ideal for single computers. There are several software companies that offer firewall protection software. Hardware routers, either wired or wireless, are the best choice to protect home networks that are connected to the Internet. The wireless router is an ideal choice for notebook computers to provide mobility. However, only a few wireless routers come equipped with a built-in firewall, so you may need a wireless adapter. Once you choose and install a firewall make sure the settings are adjusted to meet your needs. Follow the instructions that accompany your firewall to accomplish this. I understand the importance of a firewall. I know the status of firewall protection on my computer i-safe Inc. Security Maintenance 2

3 Security System Check 2: Windows Updates Goal: Understand the necessity of regularly loading Windows updates and be able to complete the task on your computer. Computer Windows Platform Internet Connection 1. What: It's very important that you keep Windows up to date with the latest security patches released from Microsoft. These patches correct areas of weakness in your system. 2. Why: Typically an area of weakness is found, a patch is released, and a few weeks later a virus arrives on the scene to exploit the weakness. Those who have not downloaded the patch are vulnerable. For example, the catastrophic Blaster Worm would never have been a problem if all users had been regularly updating their computer. 3. When: As soon as new updates become available. You can configure your system to remind you to check for updates, or if you are connected through a cable modem, etc. your computer can check for updates for you and notify you when available. 4. How: To update your Windows 2000 computer: Click the "Start" menu, select "Windows Update" and then, once the page loads, have it scan for updates. When that is finished, install all the "Critical Updates." The "Windows 2000" updates are optional. To update your Windows XP computer: Click the "Start" menu, go to "All Programs," and select "Windows Update." Once the page loads, have it scan for updates, and then install all the "Critical Updates." The "Windows XP" updates are optional. Option: When you open the update window, there is an option to personalize Windows Update. Using this option you can set your computer to notify you and install updates automatically. I understand the importance of loading Windows updates. I am able to load critical Windows updates on my computer. I am able to turn on automatic updates i-safe Inc. Security Maintenance 3

4 Security System Check 3: Malicious Programs Goal: Understand (1) basic prevention methods to counteract malicious code, and (2) how to download virus protection software on your computer. Computer Internet Connection Virus Protection Software (free trial copy can be downloaded) 1. What: Malware includes all and any programs (including macros and scripts) which are deliberately coded in order to cause an unexpected (and usually, unwanted) event on a user's PC. Viruses, worms, and Trojan horses fall under this category. Each of these can cause your computer to act up. Virus: A virus is a malicious code that executes itself and replicates itself. For example if you open an infected word file with a virus, the virus will run and then try to infect other word files on your computer (replication). Worm: To be a worm, the malicious code not only executes itself but then attempts to make copies of itself from one place to another. For example if your infected word program then attempts to access your account and itself to everyone on your address list it is a worm. Trojan Horse: A Trojan horse cannot run on its own. It depends on tricking the user into running the program. It is a program that pretends to be something it is not. One common example: A user downloads and loads a freeware game. In addition to the game, the program also installs spyware or something else in the background, which in turns runs on your computer. 2. Why: Malicious Code can be extremely harmful. Programs can change settings on the computer, delete files, slow down connection times, bog down , and more. One example is the ILOVEYOU worm/trojan horse. It infected computers at more than half of the companies in the US and even more in Europe. When it spread to a computer, it did two things: first it overwrote files on the hard drive such as.jpegs. Meaning picture files would be overwritten with a copy of the worm so they could not be opened or recovered; secondly it installed a Trojan horse designed to collect passwords and transmit them to a server in the Philippines. The ILOVEYOU program replicated by sending itself to every address in the program, causing it to also bog down the Internet. 3. When: If not currently running virus protection software it is imperative that you obtain such as software. If running virus protection, make sure you update it frequently as explained in the next step. ***Tip: it is important to read reviews on virus software before purchasing. Try typing, top rated anti-virus software into a search engine to find reviews. One reason for this the most popular anti virus software programs are not always the most effective. Virus designers write their programs to attempt to fool these programs. By choosing a newer or less known anti-virus software, you may actually be better protected as long as that software has adequate updates, etc i-safe Inc. Security Maintenance 4

5 4. How: Anti-virus programs are an excellent form of protection, but they are only as good as the most recent update. Even if you updated your definitions the week before a virus comes out, you are at risk until you get the latest update that protects against that new virus. Follow these steps: 1. Installing and keeping current a good anti-virus product is an important step in keeping your computer secure. Although this software is called anti-virus, most of these applications also protect against worms and Trojan Horses. Most anti-virus software now has the ability to checking incoming and outgoing (through popular programs like Outlook), to protect you against receiving or spreading unwanted computer problems through . Since Word and Excel documents are such popular targets, most antivirus software also specifically interfaces with these for protection. Check Now: Take a moment to see if you are running virus protection software. Go to Start: Programs: and browse through your program list. Many programs are available. Common anti-virus programs include those provided by Norton, Symantec, and Pc-Cillian. If you have one of these, open the program and familiarize yourself with it. When opened, many programs have an update button on the very first page. 2. The second step is to keep your anti-virus software definitions regularly updated. Most anti-virus software programs have a feature to automatically update your definitions periodically and it's good practice to set this to update at least once a week. Check Now: Go into your virus protection software and familiarize yourself with the options. See how to update and whether regular updates can be scheduled. 3. Next, you should be very careful in opening . If you get an with an attachment from a sender you don't recognize, don't open the attachment. Even if the sender is someone you do recognize, if you aren't expecting an with an attachment from him or her, if the wording of the subject or message seems strange for that person to send you, don't open it without first checking with him or her to verify it is legitimate. 4. For protection from Trojan horses, be careful if you download and install any software from the Internet. If you do, be sure you are always downloading it from a reputable site you can trust. Several sites offer reviews of the software you can download, read the reviews to see if other users have registered any complaints about Trojans or freeware in the software you are planning to install. Most major anti-virus software also now provides some protection against Trojan horses. I understand the importance of running Virus Protection Software. I have a Virus Protection Program running on my computer. I have run an update of my Virus Protection program. I have scheduled my Virus Program to run regular updates on its own. I know the basic difference between the various types of Malicious Code i-safe Inc. Security Maintenance 5

6 Security System Check 4: Spyware/Adware Goal: To be able to comprehend the necessity of regularly running a spyware check, and to be able to find, download and run a spyware check/removal program. Computer Internet Connection Spyware removal software (free copy to download) 1. What: Spyware is software that monitors and gathers user information without their knowledge and then transmits it over the Internet to a Parent company. 2. Why: Spyware can gather basic information like what web pages you view, shopping habits, etc. It can also be used to gather addresses, passwords, and even credit card numbers. In addition it can slow down your computer and your Internet connection as it transmits information. 3. When: Run a spyware check and removal at least once a month to eliminate these programs or whenever you think something is slowing down your computer and Internet connection (or you get frequent ad pop-ups from a company) 4. How: You will need to download a spyware removal program unless your anti-virus software also includes a spyware component. To find spyware removal software to run run a search engine using the terms free spyware removal software. Once you have downloaded spyware removal software, install and run the program according to directions. Run Now: Run your copy of spyware removal software now. See how many programs are operating without your knowing it. Update the software to make sure you are fully protected. I understand the importance of running spyware removal software. I downloaded or already have spyware removal software. I have checked for spyware with spyware removal software i-safe Inc. Security Maintenance 6

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