What is the Importance of Computer Security?

Computer keyword with combination lock on top

Is your computer protected or vulnerable? Anybody who doesn’t know the answer to that question may be putting their personal information and data at risk without realizing it. There are many ways to protect a computer to minimize the risk that a hacker or thief can access the information there and most are easy to implement.

Why is Computer Security Important?

Whether you use a computer at work or at home—or both—proper security is a must to prevent anybody from accessing your personal data, work data, or identifying information, which they could potentially use to steal your identity, hack into your bank account, or even ruin your credit.

Examples of the Importance of Computer Security

According to SC Magazine, the average American has been impacted by at least seven data breaches since 2004. Over those seven breaches, people have lost an average of 21 data points, including passwords, emails, and usernames.

The HIPAA Journal has reported that on March 8, 2022, Aesto Health, a health software company in Alabama, experienced a data breach that involved patient names, birthdates, and personal medical information. While the company immediately reported the breach and no social security numbers or financial data was lost, this incident illustrates the importance of network security.

On a more personal level, Consumer Affairs reports that since 2019, there has been a 311% increase in the number of victims of identity theft. The article also notes that there has been a 14% increase in data breaches in the first quarter of 2022. With vulnerabilities on computers, mobile devices, and the Internet of Things–smart devices of every description–it’s no wonder that computer security is more important than ever.

What Are Some Ways That People Can Be Hacked?

In the early days of the internet, the biggest risk to users was that their password might be breached and someone might access their email. That’s still a risk, but there are far more ways for people to be hacked in 2022. Here are some examples:

  • Password breaches. As mentioned, password breaches are still a risk. Even people who use secure passwords may be vulnerable to hacking if a website they use experiences a data breach. The concerns are particularly high when personal data is involved.
  • Credit card fraud. Most Americans have received at least one notice that their credit card information is vulnerable after a data breach at a major retailer. Credit cards may be vulnerable at the point of sale, too.
  • Formjacking. Any time someone fills out a form online, there’s some risk that the information entered will be stolen, which is why it’s essential to ensure that a company is trustworthy before entering personal information.
  • Internet of Things. Anybody who has a digital assistant such as an Amazon Alexa, or a smart device such as a printer or refrigerator that’s linked to a computer, may be vulnerable to hacking. Medical equipment in doctors’ offices can also be hacked, including remote patient monitoring devices and diagnostic tools.
  • Outdated software. Whatever operating system a computer uses, there are always regular updates to install. Many of these updates are designed to patch security holes. Failure to update them can leave any computer or device vulnerable to hackers.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it illustrates how easy it is to become vulnerable thanks to the many ways we are connected to one another via our computers and devices.

A laptop screen with username and password login

What is a Strong Password and Why Do You Need One?

Many people make the mistake of choosing easily guessable passwords for their online accounts and devices. They may even use the same password, or variations of it, for multiple accounts.

One of the quickest ways to improve computer security is to use strong passwords. A strong password is a password that has at least 8 characters, including one capital letter, one lowercase letter, one number, and one special character. Special characters are usually punctuation marks or symbols.

You can make up a strong password or use a random password generator. As noted previously, it’s not recommended to use the same password for multiple accounts. The safest option is to use a different, strong password for each account and device.

What is the Best Way to Keep Track of Your Passwords?

Using strong passwords does have one disadvantage, which is that it makes it difficult to memorize passwords. What’s the best way to keep track of them?

One option is to allow your computer and devices to remember passwords. For example, anybody who uses Google Chrome as their browser has seen the pop-up window that appears after choosing a new password. It’s fine to use your device’s memory if you’re the only one who uses it, but never allow a shared or public computer to remember your password.

Another option is to use a password manager such as Dashlane, LastPass, or NordPass. These tools allow users to set a secure master password that allows them to access all stored passwords. Of course, it’s still essential to change passwords regularly to maximize your protection.

Keep Your Computers and Devices Safe with Strong Passwords

Whether you have one device or many, the importance of computer security is undeniable. You can protect yourself by installing all software updates as soon as they become available, choosing strong passwords, using two-factor authentication involving a fingerprint or code whenever possible, and not accessing your accounts on any unsecured networks.

This entry was posted in Cybersecurity and tagged , . By Aimee Parrott