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Securing Your Laptop System

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Today, increasing numbers of people are using their computers for from communication to online banking and investing to shopping. As we do these things on a more regular basis, we open ourselves up to potential hackers, attackers and crackers. While some may be looking to phish your personal information and identity for resale, others simply just want to use your computer as a platform from which to attack other unknowing targets. Below are several easy, cost-effective steps you can take to make your computer more secure.

1. Always make backups of important information and store in a safe place separate from your computer.

2. Update and patch your operating system, web browser and software frequently. If you've got a Windows operating system, start by going to www.windowsupdate.microsoft.com and running the update wizard. This program can help you find the latest patches for your Windows computer. Also go to www.officeupdate.microsoft.com to find possible patches for your Office programs.

3. Install a firewall. Without a great firewall, viruses, worms, Trojans, malware and adware can all easily access your computer from the Internet. Consideration should be given to the advantages and differences between hardware and software based firewall programs.

4. Review your browser and email settings for optimum security. Why should you do this? Active-X and JavaScript are often used by hackers to plant malicious programs into your computers. While cookies are relatively harmless when it comes to security concerns, they do still track your movements on the web to build a profile of you. At a minimum set your security setting for that "internet zone" to High, and your "trusted sites zone" to Medium Low.

5. Install antivirus software and set for automatic updates so you receive the most current versions.

6.Do not open unknown email attachments. It is merely not enough that you may recognize the address that it originates because many viruses can spread from the familiar address.

7. Do not run programs from unknown origins. Also, don't send these types of programs to friends and coworkers simply because they contain funny or amusing stories or jokes. They may contain a Trojans horse waiting to infect a computer.

8. Disable hidden filename extensions. Automatically, the Windows operating system is set to "hide file extensions for known file types". Disable this option so that file extensions display in Windows. Some file extensions will, by default, continue to remain hidden, but you are more likely to see any unusual file extensions that do not belong.

9. Turn off your pc and disconnect from the network when not using the computer. A hacker can not attack your computer when you are disconnected in the network or the computer is off.

10. Consider creating a boot disk on a floppy disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised by a malicious program. Obviously, you have to take this step before you experience a hostile breach of the system.

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