With hackers getting more proficient every day, it’s tough for software engineers to stay ahead of them. It’s up to consumers to do our part to not make it easy for hackers to gain access to our computers and accounts.
1. Keep your firewall turned on.
The Windows operating system that is already on PC laptops and desktops when you buy them have a built in firewall. Keeping it turned on is a basic step for IT security.
2. Install or update your antivirus software
Most newer computers are equipped with antivirus software when you buy them, but if yours doesn’t have it, you can buy brand names like Norton or McAfee.
3. Install or update your antispyware technology
Spyware is software that allows others to watch what you do when you are online and the FBI’s website recommends antispyware. It can also be used to steal your passwords and private information. Be cautious about downloading antispyware from the Internet, especially the free ones, because that is more than likely spyware instead of antispyware.
4 .Keep your operating system up to date
Install the latest updates on your operating system. Microsoft regularly updates Windows to fix any security breaches its software engineers have detected that make it easier for hackers to gain access. Even though it may seem inconvenient to take the time for these updates, it’s time well spent and in your best interests. If you are still using Windows XP, you won’t be able to get updates because Microsoft stopped supporting the XP operating system as of April 8, 2014.
5. Set a strong password
Don’t use the same password for everything, and don’t use the names of your kids, pets, addresses or birthdates. Choose something for every one of your online accounts with both letters and numbers that can’t easily be figured out by a hacker.
6. Be careful what you download
Look carefully at the source of the material you are about to download. Only download information from well-known source sites so you won’t inadvertently be also downloading a virus or spyware along with your information. And, you must also be careful downloading mobile apps to your tablets and phones. Download only those from well-known, recommended sources.
7. Be cautious when opening emails
Never open an email from someone you don’t know or from a site you haven’t subscribed to. Delete them and report them as spam. These days you must also be careful opening emails from people you do know if the email looks like something they would not have sent.
8. Turn off your computer
It may seem more convenient to leave your computer on so you don’t have to wait for it to boot up every time you want to use it. But, whenever it is on, it is also giving hackers, including automated bot programs, an opportunity to hack into your information. When you turn your computer off, it breaks the connection.
9. Back up your data
It bears repeating to back-up everything on your computer so you have it in the event of a crash or if your computer is stolen or damaged.
10. Use HTTPS everywhere plug-in for Firefox and Chrome browsers
When you are on a web address that begins with https instead of http, that is a sign you are in safe territory and can’t be spied upon. Some security experts also recommend using a virtual private network, especially when using public Wi-fi. The FBI didn’t recommend this one since a VPN also makes it more difficult for the government to access your computer.
Katrina is a product specialist, solving issues for your computer server and power needs at Racksolutions.com