Computer hacking has gained a somewhat glamorous reputation thanks to movies and television shows that often portray the victims as international conglomerates or top secret military operations. But, the truth is, it’s more likely to be the average home PC user that opens the wrong email or downloads an infected file. Once your computer is open to threats, your personal and financial security is at risk, and transactions done in your name have the potential of ruining everything you’ve worked for. Taking the time to give your system a complete security overhaul can save you a lot of problems in the future.
1. Change your passwords – some people use the same password for every online account under their name; bad idea. Once a hacker has access to one password, all of your online information is up for grabs. Make your passwords difficult to guess by using a mix of letters, numbers and symbols, use as many different passwords as you can remember, and change them periodically.
2. Update your firewall- don’t assume that because you have a firewall you’re in the clear. As hackers become smarter, your old firewall could prove to be useless, so when you get a pop-up request to update your security software, take it. Also, try adding an additional firewall, you’ll have twice the protection to catch packets your first firewall may miss.
3. Back-up your files- if you have anything irreplaceable on your hard drive that isn’t saved on to a jump drive, external hard drive or cloud drive, take the time and copy your files. When you inadvertently download a virus, you run the risk of a systems crash, and all of your information can be wiped out.
4. Use Anti-Virus Software- if a malicious program does make its way through your firewall, anti-virus software will work to disarm and remove the program from your system. Anti-virus software that uses heuristic analysis to spot malware is much more effective and can usually be downloaded for free. Be sure to check the “Top Ten” lists of reputable publications like PC World before you make a decision.
5. Use your e-mail filter- turning on your e-mail filter is one of the simplest and quickest ways to protect your computer against spyware and potential system crashes. Opening or downloading a file from an unfamiliar address can load malware on to your computer. Programming your e-mail account to only send certain addresses to your inbox will diminish your chances of being hacked.
Upgrading the security on your PC is all about being consistent and taking full advantage of the features already loaded on to your system. So, be proactive about making periodic adjustments and additions to your computer’s security system and rest easy knowing your information is safe.
This Guest post is by Christine Kane, a graduate of Communication and Journalism. She enjoys writing about a wide-variety of subjects including internet service for different blogs. She can be reached via email at: Chrsti.Kane00@gmail.com