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Minimum Basics of Network Security

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If you don’t use your computer for much more than browsing the web, creating a couple documents, and storing family photos, then you don’t need to do much to keep everything safe.

1. Keep your software up to date: Software updates aren’t just about adding new features, they’re often about patching security holes. Thankfully, the update process is very simple. On Windows, click the Start Menu > All Programs > Windows Update. On Mac, click the Apple menu, and choose Software Update. Both update programs run periodically on their own, but it’s always good to check for a new update if you hear about a security issue.

2. Change your router’s security settings: If you’re still running your router’s default settings, then pretty much anyone can get into your home network and peek in on your computers. It’s not hard to crack WEP passwords or WPA passwords, but you should at least enable a non-default password and network name on your router.

3. Backup your photos and documents: Perhaps you’re not all that worried about what would happen if your $200 computer dies because you don’t do that much with it. Still, chances are you have a resume or some vacation photos on the hard drive. Backing up those few important files is easy. Cloud storage like Dropbox, Box, and Skydrive take very little time to set up. Once you do, your few important documents will be saved online.

4. Prevent downloaded software from installing automatically: Malware often comes in the form of a download you don’t notice happening, but it’s easy to stop. On Windows, disabling AutoRun can stop around 50% of Malware threats, and all you need is the free software Disable Autorun. On Mac, downloads shouldn’t run automatically, but if you’re using OS X Mountain Lion you can set up GateKeeper (System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General) to only allow applications from the Mac App Store for added security.

These are just the basics. If your computer is your livelihood, you need to do a few more things to keep your data secure.

-LifeHacker.Com

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