Protecting Valuable Assets: You and Your Data - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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November 29, 2019

Protecting Valuable Assets: You and Your Data

Electronic devices are an essential part of our lives. From computers to tablets to smartphones, we use and rely on them every single day. They’ve made our lives easier and more efficient, but they’ve also increased our need for awareness when it comes to privacy and security concerns. That’s where this aptly named holiday comes into play–Computer Security Day. It’s a holiday dedicated to keeping you and your data safe while you enjoy the use of your electronic devices.

What is Computer Security Day?

Celebrated every year on November 30th, Computer Security Day reminds all computer users that computer safety and security is an important responsibility personally, in schools, and in the workplace. It prompts us to remember the importance of staying on top of computer security and to take the necessary steps to make and keep our personal data and information secure.

Computer Security Day was inaugurated in 1988, right after the first case of malware–the Morris Worm. Also known as the Great Worm, it affected all computers connected to the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), the precursor to today’s internet. This incident, along with the growing use of computers, led to a concerted effort to address the increasing need for computer security.

How to Celebrate Computer Security Day

Computer Security Day is a great day to take stock of your computer’s security by evaluating your current computer security measures and by doing some basic security checks on your devices. Some of these activities could include:

  • Checking your computer protection. Although it’s important to keep your spyware and malware protection updated at all times, today is a good day to check and make sure you’re current on all updates.
  • Changing your passwords. Passwords should be changed every six to twelve months at a minimum. Vary your passwords for your various online accounts–don’t use the same password over and over. Don’t recycle passwords (e.g. ‘Richard1,’ ‘Richard2,’ etc.) Don’t make passwords easy to guess by using familiar names (e.g. children, pets, etc.). Mix lower- and uppercase letters with symbols to make passwords more difficult to hack. Remember that strong passwords reduce the chances that your personal data and information will fall into the wrong hands.
  • Sign up for and use a password manager that generates random passwords, saves them and remembers/retrieves them so you don’t have to.
  • Perform a virus and malware scan. If one or more threats are present, take measures to remove the virus or malware.
  • Backup your files and pictures. You can use a CD, DVD, USB stick, the cloud or consider an automatic backup software. Store thumb drives and discs in a safe and secure location. If you don’t already have a schedule for backups, set up a plan now. You only have to lose valuable data or precious photos once to realize the importance of this practice.
  • Keep windows and other applications updated.
  • If you have a job working with computers, read your workplace’s computer security policy. It’s a good refresher for important practices you may have forgotten, and it can catch you up on any updates you may have missed.
  • Delete Adobe Flash cookies, permacookies and zombie cookies.
  • Go through your files and delete those that are unnecessary.
  • Take a look at the audit files on your computer.
  • Examine and update your settings on all social networking sites.

Other Computer Security Considerations

Computer security is not just a once a year concern. You’re faced with choices every day that pose a potential risk to your device’s data.

  • Don’t keep passwords written on sticky notes or other places where they can be easily accessed by others.
  • Don’t share your passwords.
  • Never respond to unwanted or unsolicited email messages.
  • Don’t click on email attachments from someone you do not know.
  • Never click on links provided in emails or instant messages. Instead, you can type the link directly into the web browser yourself.
  • Don’t disclose personal information on social networking sites. Hackers gather a little here and a little there, piecing your information together from more than one location.
  • Make sure your computer is plugged into a power surge protector.

It’s especially important to consider the safety and security of your electronic devices when you are out and about. It’s easy to become lax when carrying laptops, notebooks and other electronic devices with you.

  • Make sure all your devices are password protected.
  • Don’t leave your computer, electronic device, or storage devices (USB stick) unattended. Leaving these items behind in a café (while you go to the restroom) or at someone’s house is inviting trouble.
  • Never leave an electronic device in open sight in a vehicle. Take it with you (preferably) or store it out of sight. Always lock your car when you leave it unattended, even if you’re just running in to quickly pay for gas.
  • Avoid placing open liquids close to your computer. Spills can be disastrous.

When you’re discarding a computer, donating a used computer to a charity or a school, or depositing one at a recycling depot, always wipe all data from it first. Make it impossible for someone to unscrupulously resurrect your personal data.

Year-round Vigilance

It’s important to remember that online safety and security are functions that require constant vigilance.

Whether you’re a computer geek or just realize the importance of commemorating a holiday like Computer Security Day, you might also be interested in World Password Day (the first Thursday in May), National Internet Day (every October 29th) and World Backup Day (every March 31st). Mark your calendars and get ready to celebrate technology!

If you’d like to learn more about professions, such as cybersecurity, that enable you to serve wholeheartedly and faithfully in your life’s work or want to learn more about a biblically-based, Christ-centered education at Geneva, we’d love to chat with you. For more information on how Geneva College can help you pursue your education goals, please phone us at 855-979-5563 or email web@geneva.edu.