Computer Security FAQs

What is computer security?

Computer security is the process of protecting your computer from unauthorized access either by another computer user, or by a program like a computer virus. Any connection to the Internet is a potential computer security risk if you are unprepared for possible intruders.

What steps can I take to help secure my computer?

The Internet has a wealth of information on computer security. Securing a computer is like securing a buildingâ€"you can spend a lot of time and money for alarms, fences, and guard services, or you can only put a deadbolt lock on the door and spend a lot less money. The steps you take and the money you spend are dependent upon the nature of what you're protecting. If it's a company's Local Area Network (LAN) where critical information is stored, you are likely to need more protection than you'll need for a home PC. There are many companies who will provide advice, software, and/or equipment related to computer security for a fee.

There are a few basic steps you can take to help improve your PC security.

  1. Disable any resource sharing that you don't use (file sharing, printer sharing, etc).
  2. Make regular backups of critical data.
  3. Keep your operating system updated.
  4. Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised.
  5. Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use.
  6. Don't open unknown email attachments.
  7. Don't run programs of unknown origin.

There are additional steps that are a good idea. What you spend depends upon your security needs*:

  1. Use virus protection software, and keep it updated.
  2. Use a firewall, either a software or appliance based solution. Firewalls allow you to send data out, but prevent unauthorized users from sending data into your computer. Most routers sold today have a firewall built into them.
  3. If you run a proxy server, make SURE it is restricted to users on your network.
  4. If you have critical data to protect, consider consulting with a computer security professional.
  5. If you are using a wireless router, the wireless side of it needs to be secured. Utilizing basic methods, like disabling the SSID broadcast, and enabling features like a WEP Key assist in keeping a rogue computer from using your wireless network to access your broadband service.

*It is also important to note that if a customer does not secure their wireless router, they run the risk of their connection being used abusively by a close-by computer that has "leached" onto their connection. Lumos Networks can trace the abuse to a connection or IP address, but not to a specific computer. Security is the responsibility of the customer.

Additional security tips:

What can I do about Pop-Up Ads?

Lumos Networks recommends that Windows users upgrade to the Windows XP operating system using "Service Pack 2" (found at: http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/protect/). This service pack makes important changes to Windows, the Outlook email program, and Internet Explorer to protect you from Pop-Up Ads and security threats.

There are several free tools which can also help eliminate Pop-Up Ads. Lumos Networks also recommends the Google "Toolbar" (found at: http://www.google.com/downloads/). This program also blocks unwanted Pop-Up ads, and adds functionality to your Internet Explorer.

What is spyware?

The term "spyware" refers to small behavior monitoring programs downloaded onto your computer usually without your knowledge or consent. Thousands of these programs exist, and can be harmful because they monitor what sites you visit, what you do on your computer, and then they report that information without your consent. Harmful spyware programs can also collect data (including credit cards numbers and passwords) that you enter on sites while shopping online, performing online bill payments, or banking. Some very harmful spyware programs can even turn your computer into a "zombie", and make it generate junk email without your knowledge to thousands or millions of other people. Spyware also slows down your computer, and is difficult to remove without a special tool.

What can I do to protect myself from Spy-Ware on my computer, or remove spy ware if it already exists?

Lumos Networks recommends the free anti-spyware program SPYBOT. The "Spybot Search & Destroy 1.3" program both protects and removes spyware from your computer.

  • To install, simply visit http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html.
  • Download the program and make a donation if you wish.
  • Install the program on your computer, and run it.
  • Users will want to first "search for updates", then "search for problems", and then finally "immunize" against future problems.

How do I disconnect/signoff from Lumos Networks?

In some cases, you will be prompted to disconnect or stay connected. If you don't then you can right click the two computers in the lower right hand corner of your monitor and left click on disconnect.

How do I change the homepage that appears when I open Internet Explorer?

You can change your home page by opening Internet Explorer and clicking on Tools, then Internet Options. You can change the home page here. Click OK when finished.

Why can I no longer start my browser first and have it prompt me to connect? Why do I have to connect first and THEN start my browser?

You can change your settings to always dial by opening Internet Options, clicking on Tools, then Internet Options. Then click on the Connection tab. Under the DIal Up settings box, choose "always dial my default connection". Click OK.

How do I clear the history of files on my browser?

Open Internet Explorer. Click on Tools, then Internet Options. Under the History section, click on "Clear History". Click OK.