With the recent frequency of computer and account hacks, both on personal computers and company systems alike, making sure your information is secure is more important now than it ever has been. If you think about the plethora of private information sitting on just your personal computer right now, the damage that could be done if someone were to get a hold of this information is enough to send you into a stress-induced panic. But as with many things, computer security is something that is easily taken care of– if you’re just pro-active enough to do the initial work.
To modify your security settings, you’ll want to evaluate the current state of your settings. If you’re a Windows user, you will do this by going into your Windows Registry. For those not familiar with this system, it is basically the mothership of your computer’s operating system. It is where every transaction made on your machine is stored, from hardware and software installations to print jobs to something as simple as changing your desktop background. Given this information, it goes without saying that messing with any information in the registry can end in disaster if not done properly. In fact, just one small error can cause your system to be so out of sorts that Windows won’t even be able to run. If you’re not sure you want to take this risk, there are simple software programs that can take the stress out of these tasks, automating them for you and allowing you to check and change security settings or even set them automatically with ease.
If you do decide to check the security on your registry keys on your own, here’s how to do it. You’ll first want to run the registry program editor, called “regedit.” To do this, go to the “start” menu in the bottom right-hand corner of your desktop and click search. In the search bar, you’ll type “regedit” and hit “enter.” The regedit icon should come up and you’ll be able to open the program from there. Once you’re in the editor you’ll see options to click into one of several “hives,” which are basically high-level folders where information is stored in the registry. You’ll want to find the hive labeled “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” and click the plus sign next to it to expand that folder. From there, expand first the “software” key (a mid-level folder) and then the “Microsoft” folder. At this stage, you should see a folder called “Security Center,” where all of you security settings are located.
For each application, simply click into it and locate the security folder within it. Your security firewalls and other settings will be located on the right-hand side of your screen in a separate pane. Do remember at this point that if you are not an expert in these keys, please either consult one or opt not to make the changes at this point. As mentioned before, if you would rather have some control, but less of the stress of errors which might come as a result of doing the editing yourself, there are programs which simplify this whole process for you. You will be allowed to control your settings, and even automate updates and changes so the responsibility will be completely out of your hands, while you retain a total sense of control. Either way, give yourself a pat on the back for wanting to take control of your computer’s security before it’s too late. By even considering it, you’re much farther along than many others.