One thing that every computer user should always have in mind when doing anything on their machine is security.  Yes, even you Mac maniacs and Linux lovers.  Windows is still the most heavily targeted operating system by malware, but as OSX and Linux gain popularity and marketshare new threats are being created to exploit any weaknesses in these platforms.  Simply put, no one is safe from attacks (unless you never install any programs or connect your machine to a network 🙂  Click to read more…

Since this is the case, it is of utmost importance to be aware of good security practices and the sorts of threats that are out there.  For that knowledge, I usually turn to the masters of computer security: The SANS Institute.  SANS stands for “SysAdmin, Audit, Network, Security,” and is a learning hub where people gather to receive security training, interface with experts, and keep aware of the latest security attacks and defense tools.

For the Power Users in the audience, this organization might be of particular value to you in your workplace depending on what your profession is.  If you maintain networks or do any IT (personal or company wide) work, you can keep up to date on everything security-related and it apply to your computer life.  They offer classes, trainings, seminars, etc. for all sorts of professionals that really help people face the challenges of maintaining security at work.

For everyone else reading that isn’t a computer professional, I want to point you specifically to the free email newsletters that are sent out periodically by SANS to highlight the latest news in security attacks, defense techniques, and general editor discussion about good security practices.

The first newsletter is called Newsbites and is a weekly collection of security events in the news and media from around the globe.  Some of these events include when government computers are broken into, when personal information about customers are lost/leaked/stolen, and when websites are targeted by cyber-terrorists.  These articles are interesting and informative because they are written as newspaper articles for the average reader.  Periodically, the editors will chime in with their take on a particular event as a footnote for further thought and discussion.

The second newsletter is called @RISK: The Consensus Security Alert and isn’t as entertaining, but is very important.  It basically details all of the security risks that were uncovered for popular programs, operating systems, browsers, etc. since the previous newsletter.  They even highlight the most important ones so that you can make sure you aren’t running any unsafe software that needs patching.  Very useful.

The last newsletter is called OUCH! It’s sent out less often than the other two newsletters and is geared specifically for those that aren’t necessarily expert computer users.  These newsletters are formatted as How-To lists, tutorials, top-ten lists, etc. (similar to the Security Basics) that describe in plain and simple English what to do and not to do to be as safe as possible.  I have personally forwarded a couple of these on to friends and family in hopes that they might learn some valuable tips from the experts.

No matter where you are on the computer-use totem pole, there is some valuable (and fascinating) information that is provided free of charge by the SANS Institute.  With all of the risks out there (and that number keeps on growing), not taking advantage of these wonderful resources designed to keep you save would be…well it wouldn’t be very wise would it?  Be safe out there.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009 at 10:54 pm and is filed under Advanced Computer Use, Basic Computer Use, Security. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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