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November 30th: Computer security day

There are a lot of important dates and celebrations out there, with the most recent one being Thanksgiving but also shopping holidays such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So it is not surprising there exist more practical ones like Computer security day. With the full integration of technological devices into our daily lives, it is only to be expected.

History of Computer Security Day

According to the site “Days of the Year”, Computer Security Day began in 1988, around the time that computers were becoming commonplace, even if they were yet to become ubiquitous in homes. The 80’s saw not only increased usage of computers, especially in business and government, and the internet was in its early stages. While hacking and viruses have virtually been around since the early days of modern computing, evolving and increasingly sophisticated technologies began to see more applications, and therefore more security risks due to the simple fact that more data was at risk as computers found their way into banks, government offices, and businesses. More important data stored on computers and servers meant more valuable information for hackers, and this meant higher profile cases of security breaches. As such, online security became an important concern by the end of the decade, and so Computer Security Day was created to raise awareness about computer security.

How to be part of Computer security day

Via “Wiki How” we have a list of ways to observe this holiday.

  1. Read your workplace’s computer security policy again. If your workplace has a policy, read it. Even if you’ve already read it before, it may have been updated, or you may have forgotten important parts of it. Read it for a refresher.
  2.  Check your computer station and office for security and safety issues. Looking around the area you work in can reveal a number of hazards that can be dealt with, easily provided you follow through checking them methodically. Here are some suggested activities:
    Check the batteries in your computer room’s smoke detectors. Update them if needed.   Install them immediately if you have none.
    Check for fire extinguishers. Do you have them near your computing and server   equipment  in case of a fire?
    Place monitors, keyboard and other computer equipment on anti-slip mats where needed.
    Have you got anti-static features in place to prevent shocks? This is especially important if   you work with the internal hardware.
    Have you got power surge protectors in place for all computers and related equipment? If   not, buy some today and install them immediately.
  3. Check the security and safety of your computer hardware. Whenever you leave your room or office, can other people access or remove your computing equipment? If so, consider instituting practices that will prevent them from doing anything with your computer:
    Put computer security posters in the office or room to remind everyone of their security        responsibilities.
    Use passwords to prevent unwanted access to computers.
    Attach computers to the wall or heavy equipment by means of locks in order to prevent        them from being removed. This is especially important for laptops and notebooks.
  4. Clean the hardware and your desk zone. A cluttered work space and messy office can be the cause of sloppy work practices in relation to confidential information and the more at ease everyone has become with leaving confidential information lying about, the harder it becomes to break the slack cycle. Jump on it now!
    Vacuum the computer keyboard and computer area to remove dust build-up. Wipe down    the screens with anti-static wipes.
    Ensure that all dust, including chalk dust, is not covering or inside computers and related      equipment. Also remove pet dander, especially if your cat has a habit of sleeping next to your computer as you work.
    Clean the heads on disk drives and other magnetic media drives.
    Clean the area around your computer to remove clutter and to ensure that you know where all confidential files, discs, memory sticks, and other related confidential   information  actually is. Store everything securely.
  5. Check for software and program vulnerabilities. Use the tools at hand to keep your computer software, applications, and programs in top shape.
    When did you last change your password? Do it today if you can’t remember. Read How to choose a computer password that is hard to guess for more help.
    Do a virus sweep. Read How to remove a virus if you find one.
    Delete unneeded files. They use memory but also create clutter, making it both harder to find or spot problems, and providing more potential “gateways” for viruses to enter through. A regular clean up is cathartic.
    Get rid of your Adobe Flash cookies. Read How to delete Flash cookies for the instructions.
    Examine the audit files on your computers.
  6. Verify computer inventories. If you’re running a business or you’re in the part of the organisation that’s responsible for computers, use this day to take inventories.
    Check inventories of all computer stock in the workplace. Chase up any missing or borrowed equipment.
    Check the inventory of computer utilities and packaged software.
    Check the inventory of computer applications.
  7. Update computer security training manuals. Plan to give mini computer security sessions to staff and other people on this day. Send or hand out the new manual to people who need it.
    Include all issues of privacy, use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter in a workplace context, etc. Be sure to discuss ethics and accountability for workers using external websites and internal chat and wiki facilities.
    For those working from home or who use computers at home, read up on security concerns related to using social networking sites and change your settings to protect yourself.
    Read How to manage Facebook privacy options for more information.
    Know how to spot and avoid falling for online scams such as phishing, hoax emails, pretexting, etc. Teach members of your family, community, and coworkers how to spot these scams too.
  8. Back up your computer data. For every computer owned, back up the data. If you don’t already back-up regularly, make today the day to draw up a plan to remind yourself to make regular back-ups, or use a program that will do this for you automatically.
    Develop a total recovery plan for all computer systems that might need one.
    Consider having several sources of back-up – online, cloud, USB sticks, hard drives, etc.
    Check that trouble logs are in place on each computer and are being used and followed up.
  9. Think security and safety when you’re out and about. Carrying laptops, notebooks, and electronic data gadgets can lead you into trouble if you don’t pay adequate attention. Things to do include:
    Never leave a laptop or other electronic gadget in open sight in a car. Always store out of sight, or preferably, take it with you. And lock your car, even if all you’re doing is paying for gas.
    Remember to pick up your laptop, USB stick, or other electronic gadget after using it. Leaving it behind on a bar, in a cafe, or at someone else’s house allows anyone access to the information on the item.
    Avoid carrying laptops and notebooks openly in places where mugging and pickpocketing is known. While this is mainly of concern when traveling, always keep your wits about you.
    Avoid placing open liquids such as soda or coffee near your computer. Spills can be very costly, not to mention dangerous to your data!
  10. Wipe clean old computers being donated to charity, schools, or the recycling depot at the tip. You don’t want an unscrupulous person resurrecting your personal data.