Law No. 5: Weak passwords trump strong security. If I can guess, quickly, that your administrator password is "admin" or something else easily surmised, then Law No. 1 comes into effect because I can run whatever I want on your computer. I can do a lot of damage with just a user password as well. Law No. 6: A computer is only as secure as the administrator is trustworthy. Microsoft uses business examples in this case to show how important it is to a business that the system administrator be trustworthy, and this is an essential point. Every consultant you hire may require administrative access and need to be trusted with the assets of your business. But its true at home, too. Are your teenagers trustworthy with your computer? Maybe they shouldnt be administrators.Law No. 8: An out-of-date virus scanner is only marginally better than no virus scanner at all. "Marginally" is a debatable way to put it. No doubt about it, its better to be up to date, but the most prevalent threats out there are quite old. If the user is not too credulous and you do update the scanner before too long, its not disastrous. Law No. 9: Absolute anonymity isnt practical, in real life or on the Web. Much of the Web appears to be a place you can visit and interact with anonymously, but this is largely a mirage. Unless youre very careful and sophisticated, you are always leaving clues around as to who you are and how someone could track you down. This usually doesnt matter because, realistically, who cares about what Web sites youre surfing? But dont assume that you are the wind and that you can whisk in and out of sites unseen. Law No. 10: Technology is not a panacea. Security is, unfortunately, a series of trade-offs with other goals we expect from computing, with convenience usually at the front of the list. Novices may expect security suites that claim to be comprehensive will protect them, but this can never be the whole truth. The fact that security cant be perfect isnt a reason to criticize anyoneits just a fact of life. You cant do a perfect job, but you can do a good job, and knowing the limitations of the technology is a good place to start. Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.
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Law No. 7: Encrypted data is only as secure as the decryption key. In public key cryptography there is a private key that only you should have, and its called the "private" key for a reason. If its stored on the computer, then an attacker could get access to it. The same is true of passwords. You need to memorize them or store them in a place that cant easily be compromised. This is inconvenient, but at least be aware of the vulnerability youre creating if you make passwords and encryption keys too convenient.