MANILA, JANUARY 14, 2008 (STAR) Students can be lax about PC security, and campuses are easily breeding grounds for computer viruses and other Internet threats. It’s important to take precautions as you send your kids to school — so make sure they’re equipped with the right tools to protect their computers, their information, and their privacy.

The following are seven savvy computer security tips from Symantec, a global leader in infrastructure software:

• Label and lock it

Put an indelible label on every piece of computer equipment. Not only does a label discourage theft and black market resale, it can also be used to identify recovered items.

Purchase laptop and desktop locks. Like a bike lock, these devices secure computers to a desk, table or whatever solid object is available to make it more difficult for thieves to walk away with the equipment.

• Password protects

Don’t underestimate the power of password protection. Strong passwords — at both the operating system and file levels — make it difficult for a thief to access the hard drive’s contents.

• Consider insurance

Fortunately, computer equipment is replaceable. With the right insurance, you may get reimbursed for replacement costs. It’s possible your homeowners’ policy already extends to household members using computers away from home. If it doesn’t cover such losses, talk with your agent about adding extra coverage.

• Emphasize backups

Unlike equipment, information is not easily replaced. Imagine all of the term papers, class outlines, and presentations that accumulate on a student’s computer. Now imagine losing one of those items just before final exams or an important deadline. That’s why backups are crucial.

If they don’t have one already, your kids need to set up regular backup schedules and save all critical materials to a separate medium. That means you may have to invest in an external drive or a disk burner.

You may also want to purchase a program like Norton Save & Restore, which not only creates automatic backups, but makes it easy to recover data in the event of a system crash. These small investments are more than worth it when that laptop goes down the night before the finals.

• Equip with quality protection

With large, high-traffic networks, schools are ripe for Internet attacks. Worms and viruses can spread quickly, and e-mail boxes can easily be filled up with annoying, and sometimes dangerous, spam. Students also tend to download a lot of freeware, a common source of unwanted spyware and adware. Plus, there’s always the threat of a professional cybercriminal hacking into computers on the campus network.

To keep these potential attacks at bay, students need the best protection available. At the very least, they need a personal firewall, an undateable virus solution, a spam filter, and spyware protection.

All these defenses and more are available from Norton Internet Security. With a valid student ID, kids may be able to get discounted Symantec security products at their school bookstores. Work and play with caution.

Caution and Internet savvy are the best defense against loss. Students need to be wary of sharing files, downloading free games, and responding to unsolicited e-mails or IMs.

They need to take extra precautions when logging onto hot spots, and as they open their own bank and credit card accounts, they need to learn how to bank and shop safely online.

School is considered the second home of students. It’s a place where kids must be safe as they learn new things, and since computers are a part of their learning tool, computer security should also be considered when you send them off to their second home.

The inappropriate use of computer technology by some students warrants closer attention on school safety issues associated with the Internet, computers, and other technologies.

To preserve computer safety in the campus, students must keep in mind the benefits of being smart and staying safe in their use of technology — because with the good also comes the bad.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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