How Do I Conduct a Computer Security Check?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Conducting a computer security check is an important part of computer maintenance. By periodically examining and updating security software and protocol, a computer user can help reduce the risk of viral infection or information theft. There are several steps to take when performing a computer security check, including updating security programs, running virus and malware scans, backing up important files, and changing passwords. Some computer experts recommend conducting a computer security check several times a year for maximum security.

Data can be stored securely on an external hard drive.
Data can be stored securely on an external hard drive.

One of the best ways to keep a computer secure is by using anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. These are software programs that check the computer for any virus attacks or illicit activity, and are vital to computer safety. Since new viruses and malware are constantly being released, anti-virus software may need regular updates from the manufacturer. Some programs may update automatically, but it may be advisable to check for updates on the manufacturer's website before beginning a anti-virus scan. Using the newest version of an anti-virus program can help ensure that any new threats are identified and removed from the computer.

Problems with hardware, software, and viruses can all be threats to computer security.
Problems with hardware, software, and viruses can all be threats to computer security.

Once programs are updated, the next major step in a computer security check is a system scan. Many anti-virus programs run scans continuously, but this may not be enough to fully protect the computer. Anti-malware or spyware programs can be commanded to perform a full system check by the user, and may catch dangerous programs that have slipped past the anti-virus protection. A full computer scan can take anywhere from minutes to hours, depending on the specific program and the amount of data on the computer.

Antivirus and other security software can help reduce the chances of a computer being infected by a virus or other malware.
Antivirus and other security software can help reduce the chances of a computer being infected by a virus or other malware.

In addition to periodic checks for viruses and spyware, computer security may be improved by backing up important files on a regular basis. Business data, tax information, and other important documents can be saved to an external hard drives or CDs. By keeping a copy on an external device, important documents can be saved in the event that a computer becomes irretrievably damaged or infected.

Backing up important files on a regular basis can help make you feel more secure.
Backing up important files on a regular basis can help make you feel more secure.

Once a password is compromised, a hacker can access a computer's files or accounts any time he or she wishes. A good way to conclude a computer security check is by setting or changing passwords on sensitive information to prevent hacker access. A strong password will contain both numbers and letters, and may use uppercase and lowercase letters as well as other symbols, such as the number or dollar sign. It is important that the user be able to remember the password, but security experts tend to advise against saving passwords in a computer file. For people with a lot of passwords to juggle, consider writing a hard copy of the passwords on paper, and storing it in a safe for extra protection.

A computer's hard drive can become corrupted in a number of ways, potentially leading to loss of data.
A computer's hard drive can become corrupted in a number of ways, potentially leading to loss of data.
Conclude a computer security check by setting or changing passwords to prevent hacker access to sensitive information.
Conclude a computer security check by setting or changing passwords to prevent hacker access to sensitive information.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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