Computer security experts recognize three different types of computer security—physical security, network security, and executable security. Each different type has it’s own risks and it’s own implementations.
It All Starts With Physical Computer Security
Physical computer security is the most basic type of computer security and also the easiest to understand. In short, anyone who has physical access to the computer controls it. Passwords, hidden files, and other safeguards can’t keep out a determined attacker forever if he can physically access your computer.
Computer hosting companies take physical computer security very seriously—they hire guards, use secure doors, and even put computers on military bases or deserted islands just to keep them safe.
But most average people pay very little attention to physical computer security. For example, they put private files on their office computers—computers they leave unattended for 16 hours every weekday. Or they hand their computer with illegal files over to a computer repair technician without thinking that anyone who can fix a computer can access all of their files.
The same applies for External Hard Drives Security. It is ignored completely but people continue to store precious files on these devices and then proceed to leave them laying around for anyone to grab.
What You Can’t See Can Hurt You—Network Computer Security
Everyone today knows that the firewall is an essential piece of computer security. The firewall provides network security by blocking unauthorized network access attempts to your computer.
But the firewall only protects home computers. Servers on the Internet can’t use firewalls—their whole purpose is to accept access attempts from random strangers. This makes network security tricky.
Trickiest of all is the home computer that wants to be a part-time server. For example, you want to send a file or a print document to another computer on your home network.
Because network security is so complicated—and because networking itself is so important—most major computer security failures today are the result of network security problems.
Executable Security—What Happens When Things Go Wrong
But probably the security type we’re most familiar with is executable security—otherwise known as anti-virus security.
Blocking viruses is important, but it’s also big business, so it often gets hyped over the other types of computer security. Any half-way decent programmer can write a network computer security firewall, but most anti-virus software is written by teams of hundreds or even thousands of programmers due to its complexity.
We call this executable security because that’s what computer scientists call programs—executables. On Windows, especially older versions of Windows, an executable could do almost anything it wanted, so running a virus even once could ruin your computer.
Current versions of Windows include some protections against that, although the system isn’t perfect. Yet Microsoft’s progress has significantly increased executable computer security in the last decade, so we can only hope that it will continue to make our computers more reliable in the years to come.