Keep Your Computer Safe & Secure

10 Security Tips To Protect Yourself Online

From Trojans to malware, hundreds of potential threats lurk out there—they could easily compromise the security of your computer if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Fortunately, these 10 simple steps can provide security with very little effort.

Use antivirus software and keep it up to date. Check for new updates to your software daily. Most antivirus software does this automatically, or can be configured to do so.

Secure your browser. To ensure optimum browsing safety, the best tip is to disable JavaScript for all but the most essential of sites—such as banking sites or eCommerce sites. An added benefit? You’ll be able to eliminate unwanted pop-up ads too.

Protect your passwords. Create strong passwords and keep them safe by keeping them out of sight. A few helpful tips for strong passwords:

  • Use at least 10 characters—longer passwords are tougher to crack.
  • Mix letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Avoid using your name, birth date, or common words.
  • Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.

Legitimate companies will not send you messages asking for your password. Don’t share passwords on the phone, in texts, or emails.

Take control of your email. Some simple steps to avoid viruses sent through email:

  • Do not open any files attached from an unknown, suspicious, or untrustworthy source. Also, don’t open any emails if the subject line is questionable.
  • Do not open any files attached to an email unless you know what it is, even if it appears to come from a friend or someone you know. Most worms and virus-laden spam will spoof a sender’s name.
  • Delete chain emails and junk email. Do not forward or reply to any of them.

Treat IM suspiciously. Instant Messaging is a frequent target for viruses and spam. Treat it just as you would email.

Keep abreast of Internet scams. Don’t get fooled by emails telling sad stories, or making unsolicited job offers, or promising lotto winnings. Likewise, beware of email masquerading as a security concern from your bank of other eCommerce site.

Install security patches. Check for and apply updates for all software you use, at least monthly. Vulnerabilities in software are constantly being discovered, and software developers will create updates to protect their product and their users.

Use a firewall. No Internet connection is safe without one. Firewalls are necessary even if you have a dial-up connection. It only takes a few minutes for a non-firewalled computer to be infected.

Back-up your files on a regular basis. If a virus destroys your files, at least you can replace them with your back-up copy. You should store your backup copy in a separate location from your work files, like a flash drive or external hard drive.

Always exercise caution when downloading files from the Internet. Ensure that the source is a legitimate and reputable one. Verify that an antivirus program checks the files on the site, before downloading to your computer.

Achieving good computer security can seem daunting. While the goal is to be cautious, remember that by following these safety tips you are not only protecting yourself, but you’ll be contributing to the protection and betterment of the Internet as a whole.

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