The internet has changed our lives but unfortunately, it has brought security threats with it. The best way to protect yourself from these threats and attacks is to protect yourself, your network, your devices, all software, processes, the information in storage or transit, applications, services, and systems that can be connected directly or indirectly to networks.
Computer security is the protection of computer systems and information from harm, theft, and unauthorized use. It is the process of preventing and detecting unauthorized use of your computer system.
Most times, people confuse computer security with terms like information security and cybersecurity. To know the similarities and differences among these terms is by asking what is being secured. Computer security means securing a standalone machine by keeping it updated and patched.
So, computer security comprises the controls that are put in place to provide confidentiality, integrity, and availability for all components of computer systems.
The components of a computer system that need to be protected are as follows;
- Hardware is the physical part of the computer e.g., system memory, disk drive.
- Firmware, permanent software which is attached to the hardware device’s memory and is mostly invisible to the user
- Software, the programming that offers services, like operating system, word processor, the internet browser to the user
Computer security is mainly concerned with three main areas which include confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
In other words, computer security ensures that information and computer components can be used by the owner and protects other people or software from accessing and modifying them.
Computer security threats are threats that can distort the normal functioning of your computer. The most harmful types of computer security threats are;
- Viruses, which is a malicious program which is loaded into the computer without the user’s knowledge. It replicates itself and infects the files and programs on the user’s PC
- Computer Worm: a computer worm is a software program that copies itself from one computer to another, without human interaction. The risk here is that it will use up your computer hard disk space because they can replicate quickly.
- Phishing occurs when people disguise themselves as trustworthy people or businesses, and they attempt to steal sensitive financial or personal information through fraudulent email or instant messages. It is quite easy to execute.
- Botnet: a botnet is a group of computers connected to the internet, that have been compromised by a hacker using a computer virus. The result of this threat is the victim’s computer, which is the bot will be used for malicious activities and for a larger scale attack like DDoS.
- Rootkit: a rootkit is a computer program designed to provide continued privileged access to a computer while actively hiding its presence. Once a rootkit has been installed, the controller of the rootkit will be able to remotely execute files and change system configurations on the host machine.
- keylogger (also known as a keystroke logger), keyloggers are people who can track the real-time activity of a user on his computer. It keeps a record of all the keystrokes made by the user’s keyboard. Keylogger is also a very powerful threat to steal people’s login credentials such as username and password.
Computer security threats are becoming relentlessly creative these days. It is important for one to arm oneself with information and resources to safeguard against these complex and growing computer security threats and stay safe online. Some preventive steps you can take include:
- Secure your computer physically by installing reliable, reputable security and anti-virus software
- Activating your firewall, because it acts as a security guard between the internet and your local area network
- Stay up to date on the latest software and news surrounding your devices and perform software updates as soon as they become available
- Avoid clicking on email attachments unless you know the source
- Change passwords regularly, using a unique combination of numbers, letters and case types
- Use the internet with caution and ignore pop-ups, drive-by downloads while surfing
- Take time to research the basic aspects of computer security and educate yourself on evolving cyber threats
- Perform daily full system scans and create a periodic system backup schedule to ensure your data is retrievable should something happen to your computer
Apart from these, there are many ways you can protect your computer system. Aspects such as encryption and computer cleaners can assist in protecting your computers and their files.
Unfortunately, the number of cyber threats is increasing at a rapid pace and more sophisticated attacks are emerging. So, having a good foundation in the cybersecurity approach will allow you to protect your computer against ever-evolving cyber threats.