Basic Computer Security/Introduction


Computer security is a wide range topic which has only increased over the last few decades. Previously, security was locking data behind closed doors, but since the ARPANET and now creation of the internet and world wide web, this has significantly changed. The ability to use and access data is now what is driving computing and data locked away and inaccessible is considered useless the majority of the time.

With the increased connectivity of computers, this has additionally allowed malicious actors to take advantage of various weakness in computing as a while, ranging from exploiting vulnerabilities in software to brute forcing passwords.

The sheer number of vulnerabilities in software and hardware has made it a game of catch up as more and more exploits and vulnerabilities continue to be found. It is not a question of if people are trying to crack your security to compromise your machine, it is how easy will it be for them. By taking the proper security measures, it will be much harder and quite often, not worth their time and effort, unless you are specifically targeted.

From passive to active measures, there is a lot which can be done to make being compromised a difficult task.

About this Book edit

Welcome to Basic Computer Security. The aim of this book is to instruct the reader on numerous topics of computer security such as passwords, privacy, encryption, and networking. This book is written for a reader with little to no previous knowledge of security issues, but one who is familiar with the basic functionality of his or her computer's operating system. The language used in this book should be easily understood by someone with the reading level of a college freshman. We will make our best attempt to define security-related terms and other jargon in a concise, coherent manner. Reading this book should give you a basic understanding of the processes needed to secure your home computer and home network, as well as protect your privacy and data on the web.

As a handy tool, you may click the padlock icon at any time to return to the book's main page.   (Also visible on the top right of the page.) This feature will facilitate returning to the index to move on to the next section, to return to this introduction, or to re-orient yourself if you click on a link and find yourself lost.

A short word of warning before we begin: Any book on the subject of security is likely to enlighten the reader on a variety of nasty things that could potentially happen to him or her. It is not our intention to make the reader paranoid or fearful of computers or the Internet; we believe that the primary cause of fear is a lack of understanding. It is our hope that by reading this book you will learn more about the world around you and gain valuable knowledge and understanding that will help you protect yourself, your privacy, and your information. It is better to know how to protect oneself and know how to deal with a situation when it arises than to be an oblivious victim. As our good friend Joe would say, "Knowing is half the battle!"

Below you will find various section headings which reflect the general categories which this book will address. Under each heading you will find a short description of the contents of that section, which may assist you in determining which parts of the book are relevant to your needs.

General Security and Passwords edit

General Security and Passwords will introduce basic security concepts which apply to most of the other sections in this book. It will also explain some of the key concepts in computer security that may not come up in other areas of security, such as passwords.

Malware edit

Malware will introduce you to and describe the main malware (malicious software) threats that your computer will be subject to, and will then teach you how to safely and effectively eliminate them. Topic areas include viruses, trojan horses, spyware etc...

Web Security edit

Web Security will introduce concepts which apply specifically to the world-wide-web. This will include information on Internet browsers, e-mail, and an explanation of some concepts which are integral to the understanding of security on the web. You may not be familiar with some topics or terms discussed in this section. Fear not! We will do our best to make the concepts as easy to understand as possible, as well as make their importance immediately relevant.

PC Security edit

PC Security will discuss topics which are immediately relevant to the security of your personal computer, whether at home or at work or in transit. These topics include the encryption of data, setting user account controls and ensuring your computer is physically secure, to prevent theft of your important or sentimental data.

Network Security edit

Network Security will introduce useful topics relevant to home networking. Many people have multiple computers in their home and use a router to connect all of them to the Internet simultaneously. This section will discuss methods of securing your router, your network, and each of your computers from external interference.

Where to Go from Here edit

The Where to Go from Here section will mention some more advanced concepts of security and will provide links to articles on Wikipedia, other Wikibooks, and external links that discuss security. While these are probably not the best place to start learning about security, you may find them useful or interesting after you have become more familiar with some of the basics.