Computers along with the internet, have become integral components in our day-to-day lives. If you live anywhere in the Western World, you are likely to have either a desktop machine or a laptop, which you use for both personal and professional duties, a couple of times per day.
Although most computers come with security solutions, to keep cybercriminals at bay, you can never be too certain. When you consider the multitude of possible threats, such as phishing scams, hackers, and viruses, it’s difficult to know when your system has been compromised.
The only thing you can do to safeguard your system is to take specific measures beforehand. The tips outlined in this article will help keep your system safe, so you can enjoy a productive time while using it.
1. Regularly Update Your Software
When you’re notified that your laptop, computer, or smartphone has an available update, one thing you do not want to do is ignore it. For best practices, you should wait a couple of days before applying the patch, as this will ensure you don’t get caught up in any bugs, caused by the update itself. Updating your devices and programs with the latest update releases will ensure you have the latest security patches installed, which are specifically created to plug up known vulnerabilities.
2. Secure Your System
Securing your devices and computer systems physically is just as important as online security. While computer hackers can be thwarted by a system that is properly set up with the appropriate internet security software, a system that has been stolen will give the hacker ample time to access the data on it.
When a criminal gains physical access to your system that puts your system data, including emails, confidential files, etc. all at the mercy of the thief. This also gives them the necessary time, and if needed, the appropriate tools to use to crack open your system, and obtain any and all the data contained within it.
When not using your computer or other devices, it’s very important that you store it in a secure and safe place, as this will prevent any unauthorized access. You could add a physical lock to your device, as a deterrent. There are also alarms systems that you can invest in. They can be configured to go off when someone attempts to move or remove your system.
3. Avoid Phishing Scams
Anyone that has been using a computer system for a reasonable amount of time, should be familiar with viruses and the many common ways they can get onto your system. One thing many are unaware of is the inherent risk phishing poses. The reality is that they are equally as dangerous as any virus file contracted by downloading a file.
Phishing typically occurs through text messages and emails. You may receive an email offering you a discount, product, or service, or you could get a phishing email claiming to be from an organization.
When you receive an email like this, one of the first giveaways is the sender’s email. So you should look at it, to verify that it’s coming from legitimate sources. If you’re unsure of the authenticity of an email, then you should delete it right away. You can also contact the individual or company by yourself, to verify whether or not the email was sent by them.
4. Consider Keyloggers
These are little programs called Keyloggers that are designed to record your keyboard strokes; which is essentially anything you type into your system. Hackers will usually load them into public machines, then go back at a later date or time, without the various users of the system ever knowing. For this reason, when using public machines you should always avoid logging in to important accounts or typing your credit card details into the system to purchase something.
5. Acquire VPNs
The safest way to use a public machine is through a Virtual Private Network. This way, all the data that is sent to and from your system is encrypted via the VPN. This means hackers or sniffers, will be unable to intercept and read the data that is stolen.
6. Implement Password Management
Using the same password for all your different accounts, is a huge mistake, something that could end up costing you big, in the event that you’re the victim of a data breach.
For example, if you had an account with Twitter, Facebook, Hotmail, Gmail, Netflix, etc. and you used the same password for all of these different websites. If a hacker was to obtain your password, they’d essentially have access to every one of these accounts. So one data leak could lead to all your accounts being compromised.
To get around this, invest in a password management tool. With such a tool, you will never forget the individual passwords you create for all your different accounts. And it will make life a whole lot easier, as they come with features such as auto-fil and data encryption.
7. Install Antivirus and Antimalware Software
Both viruses and malware are capable of causing a great deal of harm to your computer. There are a variety of symptoms associated with these malicious files, including system slowdowns, random crashing, etc., but the biggest threat is the theft of your confidential data and the hijacking of the bandwidth of your system.
There are malicious files that are capable of tracking the user’s keystrokes without anyone being the wiser. To get around such a threat, you need to have antivirus software installed and running on your computer. If you’re on a Windows system, it should come with Windows Defender by default, make sure that is enabled. Alternatively, you could purchase a paid solution, which tends to be more feature-rich.
8. Restrict Account Privileges
When you own a system, by default that will make you the administrator. However, you do not need to have administrative privileges to carry out most tasks on your system.
When you opt to use a regular account, it will ensure, that in the event of a virus infection, the malicious file will be restricted by the privileges of the user account.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website https://www.compuchenna.co.uk.