In today’s society, nearly every home has at least one computer. And why not? Computers make life easier. We shop, pay bills, stay connected with friends and family, and even build careers with our computers from the comforts of our homes. However, this comfort and convenience leave people open to attacks from hackers and identity theft.
However, with proper protection and a few tips, you can protect you and your family while still enjoying the conveniences a home computer brings. Here are seven valuable tips that will help to keep your online experience safe.
For most of us, this one is a no-brainer. However, if you were to do a scan with your computer for available wi-fi connections, there is a good chance that some of your neighbors have connections that are left unsecured.
An unsecured wi-fi leaves your system open to others using your wi-fi or piggybacking. This can lead to slow connections but more importantly, it can lead to hackers having easy access to your home computer. You know, the one you use for shopping all the time and has your credit and debit card information somewhere on it? Let’s not forget passwords to online accounts and services.
Making your wifi connection secure with a password will help to prevent others from sucking up your bandwidth and stealing your personal and important information.
This is another no-brainer. Downloads can be awesome, but you have to use caution. One of the easiest ways to getting a virus or malware program on your computer is by downloading something from the internet.
Keep a watchful eye out for disreputable sites that are loaded with advertisements or false information. Before running anything you download, run it through a virus scan first. Granted, that does not always mean it will be detected, but it will give you a better chance of spotting it. The safest bet is to simply purchase the program, software, music, game or whatever it is that you are trying to download. A free deal is great, but not if it leads to your identity being stolen. Remember, for every legitimate site you can download safe content from, there are thousands of sites that offer harmful downloads that can seriously wreck your computer.
You know those annoying patches your OS keeps asking you to install that seem to take forever? Always click yes. Having to wait a few minutes can be the difference between your I.D. being stolen and having a safe and protected computer.
Patches are not just for making your computer run better. Often, they have security updates that are designed to protect your computer from hackers and malicious software. Therefore, keep your system updated with the current patches.
A lot of people will disable their computers firewall in order to get a program the want to try out to run. However, you might as well be inviting Jason Vorhees into your home for cocktails.
Firewalls serve as the perimeter security for your system. It prevents programs from accessing your computer system and notifies you of when a program is attempting to access it. This way, you can decide if it is a program you know and trust, or is a program is trying to be shady. Never disable your firewall.
One element of our home network systems that often times will get overlooked, is our mobile devices. Tablets and smartphones are essentially small computers and are vulnerable to the same threats as your home computer. Ensuring your devices are password protected and having an app or program that monitors your device’s activity can go a long way towards ensuring it is protected. Setting your smartphone to lock after a short idle time and requiring a pin be used to unlock your phone will provide added protection.
Passwords are needed for nearly every transaction you make online. Banking, shopping, credit cards, nearly everything requires that you protect yourself with a password. However, some of us tend to make passwords that are easy to remember, but also easy for hackers to guess.
Using life events for your password, such as birthdates, anniversaries, or other special occasions, is not the smartest method. Hackers and anyone looking to take your identity probably know more about your special life events then you do. Additionally, using the same password for multiple websites leaves yourself open to a “world of hurt”.
Using different passwords for different sites, as well as creating passwords that have nothing to do with life events, is the best method for creating your passwords. Using strong passwords that use uppercase and lowercase letters, with a combination of numbers and special characters will help to ensure your password will be harder to hack.
If coming up with a strong and unique password for all of your websites is too challenging for you, consider using a password manager. A password manager, LastPass for example, can generate and store passwords for you. That way you won’t have to worry about forgetting your passwords and you won’t have to try and create a bunch of different ones.
New viruses are produced at a record pace. When the virus developers know the OS distributors are releasing a patch that can block their software, they will quickly develop a new virus that can circumvent the newest patch. With so much going on, popular OS developers such as Microsoft and Apple are not able to keep up with this insane pace. That’s where 3rd party anti-virus software developers come in.
These developers can focus their efforts on protecting your computer systems from virus and other nasties. They identify new threats faster and are able to defeat them quickly. If you do not have such a program installed on your computer, it is highly recommended you get one and keep up with the updates and patches. Yes, the more reputable companies do have monthly or yearly service fees. However, what is more costly: a minimal fee, or having your identity stolen?
There you have it. Following these seven simple steps can help you to create a safe and protected internet experience.