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Home > Technical > Online Security spacer

Secure Computing and Online Communications

Section editor
Ann Tothill, APC
AATothill@apc.org

Introduction

Online security and privacy should be of concern to anyone who uses the Internet. Key issues for users are password security, e-mail security and privacy, security on the web, and protecting personal computers. If your organization is running a network or a web server, reliable security mechanisms such as firewalls are essential.

This section points to materials developed by ItrainOnline partners and others which will be of use to those new to online security and privacy issues, as well as resources for more advanced users. A good introduction to the area is provided by TechSoup in Internet Security in the Workplace.

Secure Computing and Online Communications - Backing up

Backing up your data

Developed by: OneNorthWest: Activist Toolkit
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This guide from OneNorthWest outlines the hardware, software and procedures necessary to back up the key data from your computers effectively.

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Backing Up Your Data

Developed by: ICT Hub KnowledgeBase
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"Overview of options available for backing up your data."

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Backing Up Your Data

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"How effective would your nonprofit be if your email, word-processing documents, and contact databases were wiped out completely? How many hours would it take to rebuild the lost information from scratch?" ONE/Northwest and Kevin Lo look at the best backup practices.

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Developing a Backup Strategy

Developed by: Lasa Information Systems
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"Having a good data backup strategy can guard against data loss, support compliance with Data Protection regulations and protect your organisation from disaster. However, knowing where to start and what to buy can often be confusing. In this guide, we show how to develop a backup strategy, analyse the pros and cons of backup hardware and take a brief look at some of the software utilities out there to help you manage the backup process."

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How File Compression Works

Developed by: HowStuffWorks
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

File compression is a central component of most back-up tools. This article explains in simple terms how file compression works.

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Mass Storage

Developed by: Tom’s Hardware Guide
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Articles on storage devices such as external hard drives, CD and DVD burners and flash drives.

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Oh no! My laptop was stolen and I lost all my critical data!

Developed by: Kabissa
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This short guide from Kabissa looks at "a few simple things you can do to keep your important computer files safe, at little or no cost to your organization."

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The No-Excuses Guide to Automated Online Backup

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"Backing up critical files is like exercising: everyone knows they should do it, but most people don't do it enough. A remedy for the files is automated online backup." This TechSoup article show you how.

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Secure Computing and Online Communications - Password management

Protect yourself: Passwords

Developed by: Learn the Net
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Basic password tips from Learn the Net.

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Secure Computing and Online Communications - Viruses, spyware and adware

AntiVir

Developed by: AntiVir
Type of resource: Software
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic is free for individual and private use. AntiVir runs on Windows 98/Me and XP (XP&2000&NT) and Linux/OpenBSD/FreeBSD/Solaris.

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AVG Free for Linux

Developed by: Grisoft
Type of resource: Software
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

AVG Free for Linux is the Linux desktop version of the popular AVG Free antivirus tool. Although Linux viruses are less prevalent than viruses targeting Windows, Linux is not immune to malware threats, and as the use of Linux grows the risks increase.

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CIAC Hoaxbusters

Developed by: U.S. Department of Energy
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Many of the virus "warnings" circulated by e-mail are hoaxes. The CIAC "Hoaxbusters" site gives information on how to recognize hoax virus warnings and chain letters, what to do about them and also provides a directory of common hoax messages.

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Crash Course: Spyware

Developed by: Whatis?com
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Introduction to spyware and what you can do to prevent it, and links to reviews of spyware removal tools.

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Removing Spyware, Viruses, and Other Malware from Windows

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Short article by Zachary Mutrux introducing minor security incident response.

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Spyware: They came from cyberspace

Developed by: Houston Chronicle
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

A step-by-step guide from the Houston Chronicle to avoiding and removing spyware from Windows computers.

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SpywareInfo

Developed by: SpywareInfo
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This excellent site offers a newsletter, forums and other resources to keep you up-to-date on spyware and related malware.

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Viruslist

Developed by: VirusPool
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Computer viruses are "named" by vendors of anti-virus software. The same virus may be given different names by different vendors, which can make finding information difficult. The VirusPool Viruslist addresses this problem by offering a database of virus name aliases. The database is not comprehensive, but it is still a helpful starting point.

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How Computer Viruses Work

Developed by: HowStuffWorks
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Basic introduction to what viruses are, how they work, and

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Virus FAQ

Developed by: Techsoup.org
Type of resource: FAQ
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Frequently asked questions and answers on virus basics, with links to selected anti-virus resources.

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Viruses

Developed by: Rutgers University Writing Programme
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Basic introduction to viruses from Rutgers University. Although it dates back to 2002, the guide's clear, basic explanation of what viruses are and how to deal with them is still relevant.

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Webwise: Viruses

Developed by: BBC Webwise
Type of resource: Animated tutorial
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Animated introduction providing a basic introduction to viruses and how to protect yourself from them. A text-only version is available for people who cannot access the animated version.

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What are viruses, worms, and trojans?

Developed by: Microsoft
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Basic guide from Microsoft looking at what viruses, worms and trojans are, how they spread, and how to protect your system against them.

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Secure Computing and Online Communications - Firewalls

Firewalls and You

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

A basic introduction to firewalls from TechSoup.

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Home PC Firewall Guide

Developed by: Home PC Firewall Guide
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

The Home PC Firewall Guide aims to provide easy access to basic information about internet security and privacy, along with independent third-party reviews of internet security and privacy products for home, telecommuting, and SOHO (small office, home office) end-users.

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How firewalls work

Developed by: HowStuffWorks
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Short guide to what firewalls are and how they work.

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Secure Computing and Online Communications - Privacy, anonymity, and encryption

AbsoluteShield File Shredder

Developed by: AbsoluteShield
Type of resource: Software tool
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Windows does not physically remove deleted files from your hard disk. AbsoluteShield File Shredder erases files completely, making them impossible to recover.

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Activist's Guide to Using Encryption Software

Developed by: NetAction
Type of resource: Online guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Is there data on your computer that is strictly confidential? Do you send or receive email containing sensitive information about your organization's activities? If you answered "yes" to either question, you need encryption. NetAction guide that focuses on using encryption software in the context of Internet activism.

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Ciphire

Developed by: Ciphire
Type of resource: Software tool
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Ciphire Mail is an e-mail encryption tool which works in conjunction with your regular e-mail client. It encrypts and decrypts e-mail messages, and can digitally sign each message to provide authentication and guard against identity theft. Versions for Windows 2000/XP, Linux, and Mac OS X are available.

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EPIC Online Guide to Practical Privacy Tools

Developed by: Electronic Privacy Information Centre
Type of resource: Web directory
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

The EPIC Online Guide to Practical Privacy Tools offers links to privacy-related tools from e-mail encryption software to firewalls.

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Hushmail

Developed by: APC
Type of resource: Trainers' kit
Target audience: General, Trainers
Cost: Free access

MMTK introduction to the Hushmail secure web-based e-mail.

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Protection of Privacy and Personal Data in a Networked Society

Developed by: Bridges.org
Type of resource: Trainers' notes
Target audience: Trainers
Cost: Free access

Lesson outline and links for trainers.

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Security and encryption

Developed by: TERENA
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Introduction and annotated links to resources on security issues, encryption, web security, secure e-mail, PGP, SSH and security software.

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Secure Computing and Online Communications - Data destruction

Data Removal Recommendations

Developed by: Brown University
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"For the general user, the delete or format command appears to be the logical method of removing unwanted data files. These methods, however, are like sweeping something under the carpet: you may not be able to see it, but it's still there." This guide from Brown University explains why deleting information does not remove it from your hard driv, and points to data destruction tools and readings.

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Secure Computing and Online Communications - In the workplace

An Introduction to Internet Security in the Workplace

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Short introduction to topics such as password, web and e-mail security by Susan Tenby.

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An Introduction to Information Risk Assessment

Developed by: Sans Institute
Type of resource: PDF
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Vishal Visintine takes you through the basics of identifying and assessing assets, threats, vulnerabilities and risks in your organization, and at creating an action plan to address them.

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Information security in the workplace: what every user should know

Developed by: Purdue University
Type of resource: PDF guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This guide by Melissa J. Dark provides an excellent basic overview of threats to security and practices which promote computer security. Although published in 2000 the principles it outlines are still valid today.

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Information security planning

Developed by: APC
Type of resource: MS Word files
Target audience: General, Trainers
Cost: Free access

Developed by APC member Ungana-Afrika, this ItrainOnline MMTK unit aims to help NGOs plan for more secure use of information and communications technologies.

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Internet Security in the Workplace

Developed by: TechSoup.org
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

In this article Susan Tenby looks at Internet security basics such as password security, e-mail security, and web security, and also offers an introduction to more advanced topics such as encryption, digital signatures and firewalls.

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Securing Public Access PCs Without Shutting Out Users

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

A librarian experienced in maintaining a public access network provides basic suggestions for maintenance and security to ensure that public terminals are functioning optimally and so that all citizens can freely and safely access information. Though initially written for librarians and library systems, the information is relevant for community telecenters.

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Secure Computing and Online Communications - For networks and servers

LinuxChix Security Lessons

Developed by: LinuxChix.org
Type of resource: Web site and mailing lists.
Target audience: General, Women
Cost: Free access

This free security course is presented via a mailing list; the lessons are also available on the LinuxChix web site. Aimed primarily at women, the LinuxChix community offers mailing lists, annotated links to resources, and free online courses.

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Setting up a Linux Firewall on Your Network

Developed by: WebMonkey
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

An overview of how to set up and configure firewalls for Linux, along with links to additional resources. This article is aimed at readers who already have Linux experience.

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Secure Computing and Online Communications - Wireless

Five Tips for Secure Wireless Web Surfing

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

How to stay safe when using a public wireless hotspot

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Wi-Fi for dummies: Securing network access while on the run

Developed by: The Register
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

If you are chatting, emailing, or just browsing while at an wireless internet hotspot, you'll want to read this article to understand the risks and ways to protect your personal information when you're on the go. The article provides recommendations on the most secure software to use, as well as plugins to further enhance security. It looks at web browsers, instant messenger services, and email.

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Wi-Fi horrors: Tales from the cryptographer

Developed by: CNet
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Basic tips for securing your wireless network.

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Secure Computing and Online Communications - General

Editor's choice: Privaterra

Developed by: Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR)
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"Privaterra works to educate human rights workers about privacy and security technology, and to help them implement and use it in their daily operations." The Privaterra site includes directories of privacy and security tools, and online forums in Spanish and English.

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80 Super Security Tips

Developed by: PC Magazine
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"Whether your PC is 3 years or 3 days old, it faces the same, sometimes scary security issues." PC Magazine offers 80 tips for dealing with the most common problems.

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Access control

Developed by: APC
Type of resource: Trainers kit.
Target audience: General, Trainers
Cost: Free access

MMTK introduction to passwords and firewalls.

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Computer & Internet Security, Privacy, Anonymity and more...

Developed by: security.tao.ca
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Aimed at activists, Security.tao.ca offers extensive resources on security from introductory to advanced levels. Among the topics covered are general security for activists, email - privacy & security, privacy and security on the Web, and encryption.

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Digital Security and Privacy for Human Rights Defenders

Developed by: FrontLine
Type of resource: Online manual
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This manual from FrontLine looks at topics such as security awareness, threat assessment, destruction and recovery, internet surveillance, and identity theft.

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Disaster Planning and Recovery Toolkit

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Collection of web guides
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"In this toolkit, you'll find resources to help you plan ahead so that you can limit the damage from a disaster; a comprehensive, downloadable guide to recovery; and information about tools to help keep your nonprofit's data safe should the unthinkable happen."

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Guarding against loss of data

Developed by: APC
Type of resource: Trainers' kit
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

MMTK introduction to guarding against loss of data.

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Improve Security by Patching Windows

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Introduction to using features like Automatic Updates to protect your computer from viruses, worms, and other attacks.

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Information Security for New/Home Users

Developed by: CERIAS
Type of resource: Guides (HTML and PDF versions)
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"New to information security? Want to learn more about protecting your home system from intrusions and incidents?" This series of guides from the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) at Purdue University will help you understand where you may be at risk and what measures you can take to secure your computer.

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Information Technology Security Handbook

Developed by: InfoDev
Type of resource: HTML / PDF handbook
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"Informational and Communications Technologies (ICT) are crucial for social and economic development. However, there cannot be an effective use of ICT in the absence of a safe and trusted ICT environment. Thus, IT security plays a prime role in creating the environment needed for e-government or e-commerce activities, including sectoral projects, such as, for example, in the areas of education, health, or finance." This handbook provides an overview of security issues and the implications for developing countries and looks at security for individuals, organizations, and technical administrators, as well as at information security and government policies.

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Open Directory: Computer Security

Developed by: Open Directory Project
Type of resource: Web directory
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Annotated links to resources on a wide range of security-related resources.

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OpenICDL

Developed by: Go-Open Campaign / ICDL Foundation Africa
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"OpenICDL is an open source project that aims to develop and maintain a Free/Open Source version of the training materials used to ready students for the International Computer Driving License certification.\" Materials cover Basic Concepts of IT, Using a Computer and Managing Files (K Desktop Environment), Word Processing (OpenOffice.org Writer), Spreadsheets (OpenOffice.org Calc), Databases (OpenOffice DB), Presentations (OpenOffice.org Impress) and Information and Communications (Mozilla 1.4 and Ximian Evolution 1.4). Materials are available in HTML and PDF versions.

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Participating with Safety: Secure Online Communications Briefings

Developed by: APC
Type of resource: Zip file of .doc files
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

These briefings look at information security, backing up information, passwords and access controls, using encryption and digital signatures, computer viruses and using the internet securely. Developed in 2001 by APC, the briefings offer a good overview of the principles of secure online computing.

Download
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Protect your PC

Developed by: GetSafeOnline
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"Protect your PC" is part of the UK government GetSafeOnline initiative, and is aimed at teaching PC users the basics of secure computing and online communications. Areas covered include using a firewall, using anti-virus software, updating software, stopping spyware and using internet telephony safely. The site focusses mainly on Windows, but includes advice for Linux and Mac users.

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Safe Computing - Best Practices

Developed by: University of Chicago
Type of resource: Web guides
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Guides on updating your operating system; using good passwords; "Don't Open Unexpected Attachments"; installing and update antivirus software; using secure programs; and installing a personal firewall. Although developed for users at the University of Chicago these guides will be of wider relevance.

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SANS Top-20 Internet Security Attack Targets (2006 Annual Update)

Developed by: SANS Institute
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"SANS has released its Top 20 Internet-based attack vectors rankings. Important trends in threats include targeted attacks, such as zero-day attacks and spear phishing, and evidence that governments are employing people to conduct cyber espionage. Also of concern are attacks on Internet-based phone systems and exploitation of security holes in web-based applications."

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