Keeping your computer protected online with our helpful guide.
Maintaining your online security has never been more important, as most security issues arrive via the internet. With the sophistication and use of all types of threats continually on the rise, it’s important you know what and how to keep your PC free from viruses, spyware, malware, phishing attacks, botnets and the list goes on. Use the following computer protection guide to get ontop of it all.
Use Anti-virus/Anti-malware Software
It’s a given that you should be running anti-virus software. For some they find certain software too intrusive, with messages and pop-up windows continually reminding the user to update or scan, which has the opposite effect, until users just disable the software all together. Instead try a few first, with many companies offering free trial periods to evaluate. Take advantage of this when first deciding and find the solution which works for you. Once you have found the software of choice, schedule scans regularly, the best is to plan for when you are most unlikely to be using the PC, like late at night, early in the morning or when you’re at work. Secondly keep it updated daily, as the software is only as good as the most latest updates, because if it does not know about a new virus, it won’t be detected and quarantined. Get into the habit of checking out the programme and make sure all is running as planned.
Antivirus alone is not enough though, so consider undertaking the following to really keep yourself safe.
Scan All Removable Devices
Get into the habit of running a quick scan on your removable devices, like Hard Drives, smartphones and USB sticks. If you have been using these devices in other computers around the house, at work or at friends houses, when you do reconnect it back into your PC, always run a scan before opening up the device. Even if you just saved or copied some files over, you won’t know if these other computers are also infected and inadvertently quietly infected your Hard Drives when you plugged it in and never ever plug in a USB stick you found lying around, you just don’t know what sort of bad things await.
Create Limited User Accounts
First up i’m sure many of you are using the default user account you created when you bought it new, this is almost always the administrators account, with access to all sorts of system wide settings and files, which things like spyware, malware and viruses love. While the administrators account is surely needed, consider making separate accounts for each user, with limited rights. This will stop undesirable programs from installing, because without the administrator access it won’t install. You will still be able to do all the things you love, like watch videos, listen to music, surf the internet but this extra layer will ensure you know what is running on your system, as you will have to give access to any new software or apps you want installed on the system.
Practice Safe Browsing Habits
This sometimes is easier said then done but if you just act with a little caution and take the time to read what’s on your screen, you can avoid getting into trouble.
- Only open attachments from people you trust and are expecting emails from
- If you are unsure if the sender is genuine and is asking to reset your password or login, avoid the direct links from the email and instead manually type the website yourself. This way you know the website is genuine and not a fake website phishing for your login details
- If you accidentally do use an infected link, one way to tell is if after entering your login details, you are asked to login again, it’s a sure sign that you have just handed the hackers over your login details. Immediately contact the site and get your account password reset and you should hopefully avoid any danger.
- Use browser plugins that force the website to connect via SSL, this is the lock you see next to the sites URL. It just means all data being sent and received is encrypted, keeping anything you do impossible for hackers to intercept and make sense of what is happening.
- Avoid links which look suspicious or claim you have won prizes
- Download files and software from trusted sources, if you are unsure, don’t risk it.
- Use Two factor authentication (2FA) on websites which support it, like facebook, gmail, outlook etc.
- Use different passwords on every websites, use a password manager like Lastpass or Dashlane to keep track of them for you.
Enable The Firewall
A firewall is essentially what it says it is, a wall. It’s main purpose is to block traffic coming from and to the internet which is deemed unsafe. There all all sorts of advanced configurations with a firewall but the default settings are usually the safest. Windows and MAC computers come with an inbuilt firewall, found in the control panel or settings menu. While more sophisticated firewalls also come included with many anti-virus, anti-malware and modem/routers too.
Keep Your Computer & Apps Updated
Always download the new updates for your operating system, Windows uses Windows Update, turn it on to automatically download and install updates, as many of these patches include fixes for security vulnerabilities which have been discovered. The same goes for the apps and software you use, if you are asked to update software, take the time to download the update, as these too also include important security patches, as well as improved features.