Thousands of new malicious software programs are created every day, and can cause a multitude of problems, including information theft and individuals remotely manipulating your computer to perform attacks. Because of malware’s ubiquitous presence and potential for devastating financial damage, BELCO recommends that everyone implement effective security controls on their home PCs. At a minimum, the security measures should include antivirus software, regular operating system and application updates, and an enabled stateful firewall, which is a firewall that only allows incoming traffic that was sent in response to a user request.
In an effort to assist our members to find a solution that meets their needs, Belco has compiled a list of security resources that may help you secure your home PC. BELCO has no affiliation with any of the companies listed and does not recommend any particular software vendor over another, nor is BELCO able to provide support for any of the software packages. Whether you choose to install the minimum level of defense, or one of each type of solution, we encourage you to do your own research to determine the best security package for you. Many of these software packages also have versions available for purchase that contain additional functionality or protections. Balancing your security requirements with your financial situation is a decision all members should consider carefully, but increasing your security posture doesn’t always need to cost money.
Just as you must schedule or perform regular maintenance on your vehicle or home to ensure reliability and safety, ongoing maintenance of your PC may significantly increase your online security. The following lists are intended to provide a starting point for members to evaluate security applications and solutions.
Antivirus software can prevent, detect, and remove malware, including but not limited to computer viruses, computer worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and adware.
Automated Software Updaters
Outdated software can have security vulnerabilities, which may expose your PC to attacks. These applications may help to resolve vulnerabilities by automatically scanning your PC for outdated software versions, and subsequently finding, downloading and installing the latest versions.
As an additional layer of protection, some users may want to enable disk encryption, which would implement different methods of authentication. These may allow users to restrict access to users with a set password, USB device or both.
Many operating systems, including Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X v.10.5 and 10.6, and Fedora 8 and above, come with built-in firewalls that are enabled by default. Others, including Ubuntu, have firewalls that end-users can install and enable. Other firewalls are available to download.
As the number of consumers using smart phones increases, the number of individuals designing malware for the devices increases, as well. If you have a smart phone, you may want to explore mobile antivirus solutions, and decide if one might benefit you.
During the course of regular PC use, your system may acquire a large number of temporary and junk files that occupy disk space and slow your computer. These programs act as file cleaners, disk registry cleaners, and privacy cleaners, and may improve your computer’s performance.
While these tools will increase your security posture, there is no guarantee your PC won’t become infected. Authors of malware continue to develop new methods of attacking or infecting PCs, so there is no single method of guaranteeing your PC is always safe. Just as taking vitamins and eating healthy foods may help strengthen our bodies against illness but not entirely prevent disease, these programs work to prevent infections but are not 100% guarantees. BELCO encourages our members to research these types of security tools and seek professional guidance for any PC security questions they don’t understand.