On November 2, 1988, an unprecedented event occurred. A computer worm named Morris, one of the first of its kind, began making its way across the internet. Estimated to have infected 2,000 computers within 15 hours (which was fast for the ‘80s), Morris compromised 10 percent of the 60,000 systems connected to the internet before finally being shut down. Its creator, Robert Morris, became the first person convicted of a felony under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Ever since Morris swept the internet in 1988, we’ve recognized November 30 as the international celebration of Computer Security Day! The purpose is to spread awareness and remind people that the systems they use are vulnerable and that, without proper security maintenance, our desktops, laptops, and smart devices are easily compromised. All it takes is just one click!
Here are five things you can do to celebrate (complete with GIFs!):
Spread the word.
Communication is one of the most valuable assets of computers. Likewise, communication is one of the most valuable assets of computer security. Spread awareness by informing others of Computer Security Day. Get involved! Follow the official #ComputerSecurityDay hashtag and see what others are sharing.
Organize your files and folders.
When was the last time you cleaned up your temporary files folder? (Don’t know how? Click here for Macs. And here for Windows.) How messy is your desktop? Do you need every single photo you’ve ever taken? Make time to clean things up! A clean machine is a secure machine. Streamline this process by making it a weekly task.
Remove unused programs.
According to a study conducted in late 2016, the average user has 72 programs installed on their machine and 7.4% of them are out of date or no longer supported. Vulnerabilities remain unpatched in old software, leaving holes in your security forcefield that can be easily exploited by cybercriminals. Go through your list of programs and uninstall those you rarely use and be sure to delete any files associated with them.
Update all other programs.
Keeping things up to date is Security 101. From your operating system to your chat apps, developers release updates to patch issues and improve overall security. Even better, updating is about as simple a security step as you can implement in your daily routines thanks to auto-update (available within most apps). Security updates make for happy, well-functioning machines! (Most of the time.)
Review your passwords.
You didn’t think you’d get through this entire blog without us mentioning passwords, did you? Here’s the thing about computer security: none of it matters if you don’t have strong, unique passwords for each account. It’s cliché by now, but passwords are the first line of defense. Using short, easy-to-guess, obvious passwords is a great way to have your accounts hacked. Keep them long and keep them strong!
The bottom line is that computer security should be celebrated every day. So today is more of a reminder that the battle against cybercrime is a responsibility that we all share. Do your part and let’s make the internet a safer place.
Happy Computer Security Day!