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Computer security primer

Computer security is about outwitting criminals. We know they target your devices, networks and online accounts.

The question is: How successful will they be?

Your devices can be vulnerable from the moment you hit the on button.

It’s worse online. Threats multiply. Your data, your online accounts and your privacy are under attack all the time.

While there’s no sure way to make your systems, account and data safe, there’s plenty you can do to minimise risks.

Computer security

The risks are real. At the less worrying end of the spectrum, neighbours might hop on your wireless router and surf the web at your expense using your broadband account. Or pranksters may load your PC with troublesome viruses.

There are people, including some seemingly respectable companies, who spy on your online activities. That data, some may be private, is valuable to others.

More seriously, crooks want to control your devices so they can suck money from your bank accounts.

Others want to hijack your machine so they carry out their crimes or even terrorist acts at arm’s length leaving a trail that investigators may track to your front door.

Getting Started

It sounds scary, but an industry has evolved to help keep you safe. These days you need a variety of tools to fight a complex range of security threats (see the next post: Computer security: what are the main threats).

Depending on your level of expertise, an anti-virus might help. You may also get value from anti-spyware tools or a virtual private network. You may already have a firewall. Make sure you are using it.

This may sound complicated and expensive, but all-in-one security suites can make life easier and help you sleep at night.

There are free security suites, some are as good as paid for versions. However, if you pay, you’ll get support.

Suites are particularly helpful if you’re not a security expert because the separate tools in security suites should interact smoothly with each other and offer overlapping protection from today’s nastiest threats which can use a blend of techniques to probe your defences.

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