The internet gives you access to countless products and services. At the same time, it can leave you open to scammers, hackers, and identity thieves. Protecting your computer from viruses and other threats isn’t difficult, but you have to be diligent.
Below are some key steps to protecting your computer from intrusion:
– Keep Your Firewall Turned On: A firewall helps protect your computer from hackers who might try to gain access to crash it, delete information, or even steal passwords or other sensitive information. Software firewalls are widely recommended for single computers. The software is prepackaged on some operating systems or can be purchased for individual computers. For multiple networked computers, hardware routers typically provide firewall protection.
– Install or Update Your Antivirus Software: Antivirus software is designed to prevent malicious software programs from embedding on your computer. If it detects malicious code, like a virus or a worm, it works to disarm or remove it. Viruses can infect computers without users’ knowledge. Most types of antivirus software can be set up to update automatically.
– Install or Update Your Antispyware Technology: Spyware is just what it sounds like—software that is surreptitiously installed on your computer to let others peer into your activities on the computer. Some spyware collects information about you without your consent or produces unwanted pop-up ads on yourweb browser. Some operating systems offer free spyware protection, and inexpensive software is readily available for download on the Internet or at your local computer store. Be wary of ads on the Internet offering downloadable antispyware—in some cases these products may be fake and may actually contain spyware or other malicious code. It’s like buying groceries—shop where you trust.
– Keep Your Operating System Up to Date: Computer operating systems are periodically updated to stay in tune with technology requirements and to fix security holes. Be sure to install the updates to ensureyour computer has the latest protection.
– Be Careful What You Download: Carelessly downloading e-mail attachments can circumvent even the most vigilant anti-virus software. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don’t know, and be wary of forwarded attachments from people you do know. They may have unwittingly advanced malicious code.
– Turn Off Your Computer: With the growth of high-speed Internet connections, many opt to leave theircomputers on and ready for action. The downside is that being “always on” renders computers more susceptible. Beyond firewall protection, which is designed to fend off unwanted attacks, turning thecomputer off effectively severs an attacker’s connection—be it spyware or a botnet that employs yourcomputer’s resources to reach out to other unwitting users.
– Different password for different sites: The biggest problem undermining password security isn’t that passwords are too short or too simple. It’s that many people use a single password over and over again, with the result that one website’s data breach will jeopardize accounts on many sites.
“One easy option is to make all your online-retailer logins and passwords different from your financial logins, and those different from your email password “. Remembering three passwords based on a category is easier than remembering a constantly changing single password.
– Make your home wireless network private — or even invisible: Home Wi-Fi networks can easily be found by scanners on laptops, smartphones and stand-alone devices. Most people have learned to secure them with password-based encryption, but there are still a lot of holdouts. “With the proliferation of wireless in homes and business, securing these connections is an important step in keeping very bad things from happening,” , While manufacturers have made it simpler to turn on encryption, the unfortunate fact is neighborhoods remain filled with vulnerable wireless networks. In fact, you may want to take the next step and set your Wi-Fi router to not broadcast its network name, or SSID. That way, people driving down the street scanning for open networks can’t see yours at all.
– Look for signs of a secure website: How can you be sure your online banking site is really what it claims to be, or that you’re really logged into Gmail? There are certain signs. “These can include the padlock icon in the browser address bar, use of the ‘https’ protocol, which means that the site is encrypted, and a green bar indicating that the owner of the site has gone through extended validation by a Certificate Authority like DigiCert to prove the organization’s identity,”.
– Ignore pop-up ADs and unexpected email attachments: Things that arrive unexpectedly on your browser screen or in your email inbox are often malicious and may download malware onto your computer. Your up-to-date anti-virus software should catch most malware before it does any damage, but it’s better to use common sense to avoid the risk altogether.