In-Depth

Seven security basics

Everyone knows the basics of network security, but a little review never hurt anyone. Whether you install a high-powered intrusion tracker, sign on for extensive services or do something else, these seven practices are the absolute minimum for a secure network.

1. Use strong passwords. Choose passwords that are difficult or impossible to guess. Give different passwords to all accounts.

2. Make regular backups of critical data. Backups must be made at least once each day. Larger organizations should perform a full backup weekly and do incremental backups every day. At least once a month, the backup media should be verified.

3. Use virus protection software. This means having it on your computer in the first place, checking daily for new virus signature updates, and then actually scanning all the files on your computer periodically.

4. Use a firewall as a gatekeeper between your computer and the Internet. Firewalls are usually software products. They are essential for those who keep their computers online through DSL and cable modem connections, but they are also valuable for those who still dial in.

5. Do not keep computers online when they are not in use. Either shut them off or physically disconnect them from Internet connections.

6. Do not open e-mail attachments from strangers, regardless of how enticing the subject line or attachment may be. Be suspicious of any unexpected e-mail attachment from someone you do know because it may have been sent without that person's knowledge from an infected machine.

7. Regularly download security patches from your software vendors.

Source: Consult the National Infrastructure Protection Center Web site at www.nipc.gov for more information.

For more information, see the related article 'Can the hackers be stopped?'

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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