Home Computer Security

A Web Browser furnishes you with the means to travel all over the Internet to attractive destinations. Unfortunately, now and again, uninvited passengers such as a computer virus, climb on board which is the time that you find out that your home computer security is not as good as you first thought. As with most things in life, home computer users have choices, including what web browser they use.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer still has well over 90% of the market which maybe something to do with the fact that it is free. However, the popularity of IE is diminishing a little. New kids on the block such as Firefox have inherently superior security with an additional bonus that they will run on Linux.

Even if these other browsers did not have superior security they are less favoured targets simply because their market percentage is so low. Until such time that legislators and software vendors get serious about security, users will need to lessen their target area by staying out of the limelight.

There are numerous options in Internet Explorer and similar browsers that control what components are triggered when surfing. However, it is a fact that very few users have the knowledge about what they are for or the effects of setting them one way or the other. Of course, if the user is to improve their home computer security, they need to know what these options do and the effect they will have on the internet and security.

For instance, is it desirable to 'Allow ActiveX controls and plug-ins' to Run, or should that be set to Prompt? As in all aspects of security in life, individual judgments need to be made. One consideration is your toleration for responding to prompts versus your willingness to take a chance and risk infection.

It is an unacceptable trade off to be faced with, and one which we can hope someday will not be required. But in the short term, it is not essential to be a computer geek to research and study a bit to discover what those settings affect and how they can affect computer internet security. The first time that your system is infected with a computer virus and you lose a day recovering, you will wish you had spent the two hours finding out.

Correct use is the last leg of security for a home computer system. Do you practice 'safe browsing'? Some websites prompt you to download ActiveX controls, dialers, adware and other undesirable content. Do you really understand what is liable to happen when you say yes, or are you trusting the source? Trust is necessary, but as the old saying goes 'Trust, but keep your eyes open'.

The majority of users are unaware of the scale to which using a browser opens up their computer system to the rest of the world. Surfing on the Internet means not just seeing, but being seen. And accessing websites generally means being accessible. It is not just innocuous cookies that can be downloaded to your computer. Once executable programs are downloaded they will often have a free run of your entire computer system.

Spend some time learning how to lock down your system, outside the browser settings, to make it more difficult for these rogue programs to achieve administrator level privileges. Your time will be well repaid.

So, be in the know of what is taking place when you navigate to a website and only download from trusted sources. Your home computer security depends on it.