When it comes to personal computer security, it’s important not to be complacent, particularly at the office. It’s true that there are many different types of threat that can cause problems for your system and consequently the rest of the office, but there’s also a wide choice of security applications to secure your personal computer and its network.
Security tools can be split into three broad categories, but you may find some programs combine different tools into one, which is particularly useful if you work in an office with other computers in the same network. Most operating systems are programmed to warn you if there aren’t sufficient security measures in check.
Your computer’s firewall acts like a border patrol for your PC, checking the authenticity of data coming into and going out of your system. If something malicious is found, the firewall will block it from entering or leaving. Windows comes with its own basic built-in firewall, although you can install third-party alternatives if you want additional and advanced email security protection, such as that available from companies like Mimecast.
Using firewalls for work computers is different from casual home use. Because you’re connected to several different computers at work, you’ll probably need a stronger-than-usual firewall with advanced controls. This will enable you to set up specific lists of programs that can or cannot access the web, which will differ according to the kind of work your company does.
Anti-virus and anti-spyware
Typically, viruses refer to strings of malicious code that can harm your system in a variety of ways. Viruses are usually focused on destroying data or taking over your system, while spyware applications tend to concentrate on surreptitiously logging your activities and targeting you with advertising or spam messages. With business computers, there is the danger of spyware ‘hijacking’ your mailing lists and using them to proliferate.
Most security suites combine virus and spyware scanning into one application, though you can also find them as separate tools. Your office should have one uniform integrated package installed on all workstations. Make sure your IT department has a competent package installed that not only runs regular scans looking for problems, but which also takes a pro-active approach in spotting suspicious activity on everyone’s hard drives.
Many security threats arrive over email, whether it’s a spam attachment or a phishing email that tries to get you to visit a fake version of your social media or banking site. Although you may be used to spotting them on your personal email, they can be far more devious when they target business email addresses, especially if they’ve ‘hijacked’ one of your clients’ or business partners’ email systems.
Having an up-to-date, effective email scanner (whether built into your email client or as a separate tool) is essential.
If you want to go the extra mile you can set up email encryption to make it much harder for hackers and spyware applications to spy on your messages should they be intercepted mid-journey. While this kind of technology may sound complicated, in practice it isn’t difficult to get such protection up and running.
As a general rule, keep all of your software from your operating system to your web browser updated and running the latest available versions. With these applications handling the protection of your office PC systems, you can minimize the likelihood of any security breaches taking place in the future.