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What Every Employee Should Know About Computer Security

No longer is computer security exclusively the responsibility of the IT department. At every level in your company, executives, managers and employees should take responsibility to protect your data and, by extension, your reputation. Take these five precautions to help avoid a security break.

1. Watch for Signs

If a computer is running slowly or behaving oddly, that can be a sign of malware infection. Contact IT support to request help. Turn off any suspect computer until it can be removed from the network and checked.

2. Avoid “Phishing” Attacks

One of the easiest ways to break into a corporate computer network is to trick employees into revealing their login credentials. To avoid “phishing” attacks, never click a link in a strange or vague email. If a friend emails you a one-liner like, “Hey, check this out,” that very well could be a phishing attack launched by somebody who has hacked into your friend’s account. Make sure to verify the sender who is in control of the email, and hover your cursor over the URL before clicking it to see where it leads. If you don’t recognize the URL, do not click it.

3. Choose a Strong Password

An easy way to create and remember a strong password is to connect four common, but unrelated words. For instance: “breadfroganklezipper.” A password like that is relatively easy to remember and virtually impossible to crack. Requiring users to include a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and punctuation in their passwords often will lead to users writing passwords down or storing them in unencrypted files, both of which defeat the purpose.

4. Use Second-Factor Authentication

The easiest way to perform a second-factor authentication is to email or text the user a single-use code. To login, he or she requests a code, then enters it. After the code has been used or a short time has elapsed, it is no longer valid. This method of authentication is more secure than passwords. Some popular web services such as Gmail offer second-factor authentication as an option, and many banks have started to employ it when a user attempts to login from an unknown computer or network location.

5. Stay Up-to-Date

Keep all software patched with the latest versions. Your computer should run automatic updates on a regular schedule. If you have a website, make sure it is patched regularly. One of the most common vulnerabilities is software that is not up-to-date.

Remember, the bad guys are inherently lazy. They are looking for soft targets. Although no security measures are 100 percent effective, if your organization takes reasonable precautions, you are a lot less likely to suffer an attack.

Blog Author: Jonathan Hochman

Jonathan Hochman is the founder of Hochman Consultants, an internet marketing company, and CodeGuard, a computer security service. He is the director of Search Engine Marketing New England,, and an active speaker and contributor to trade journals. He has 20 years experience in international trade and marketing. Hochman received two degrees in Computer Science from Yale.