Computer security basics include: using unique passwords for each website, thinking before you click, regular updates, watching for phishing and knowing about the networks you use. All these things will help your computer protection software keep your PC running.
Use unique passwords
Every account you have needs a unique password that’s different from any other. You may think it’s not a big deal to use the same password for all your accounts because nobody will ever guess it, but you’d be wrong. Just take a look at the history of companies that have been hacked over the years. Even if someone could never guess your email password, they may get it while hacking a different account – if you always use the same password.
The traditional method of keeping up with all these passwords, paper and pen, is fine if you don’t do much online. However, most people will have dozens of accounts and each one should have a different password. For added security, these should be randomly generated passwords using numbers, letters (capital and lower case), punctuation, and symbols. Programs like LastPass, KeePass, or any of the other programs like the Life Hacker’s Five Best Password Managers list can help you keep track of all these passwords.
Think before you click
We’ve all done it before, you are in the middle of working on a project when some system message pops up. Rather than stopping to see what it says, we simply click “OK” and get back to work. Unfortunately, clicking “OK” on every message your computer puts on the screen is a great way to bypass any security you have in place. Just take a moment to slow down and think before you click. Read the message and take informed action to address the issue your computer has brought to your attention.
Similarly, you need to take a moment to consider the links and ads you’re clicking online. Some will take you to great articles, information, and software. Others will take you down a rabbit hole of spam, malicious software, viruses, and hackers. Carefully consider all links before you click them.
Stay up to date
Many people have been told to keep their computers up to date. Windows updates and many other programs are mostly automatic, but you still need to check on these from time to time.
However, this includes keeping up with the latest threats. You need to be an informed consumer and know what threats you may face while using your computer. This could be a virus that has been showing up in email, or it could be some type of phishing scheme.
Not everyone is honest online. You must consider every email and web page carefully before sharing any information online. This includes user names and passwords, but it extends to your name, address, phone number, banking details, and other personal identification information.
We’ve all heard about the emails from foreign royalty that wants to wire millions of dollars into an account for you, all you need to do is give them the banking details. Most people are too smart to fall for that one. However, you would be surprised by the number of people that believe similar stories and find their bank accounts are empty the next day.
Wireless internet access isn’t secure
Unless you take the necessary steps to secure your wireless network, or connect through a VPN when you’re using public WiFi, you’re connection is not secure. This means that anyone with a few spare minutes to watch a YouTube video and learn about packet sniffing can hijack your connection. They can see what you’re sending and receiving online. They can even intercept the connection and change portions of the page you’re trying to open. While this is extremely rare, it is possible and you need to be aware of the wireless networks you use.
At coffee shops you should stick to checking your email and other tasks that are done using a secure connection. Logging into a typical WordPress website, for example, is not done using HTTPS. This means the user name and password are transmitted in plain text and anyone could intercept those packets. Think about the network you’re on and the activity you’re engaging in on that network.
Antivirus, anti-spyware, and other computer protection software
There are many antivirus, anti-spyware, and other computer protection software packages available. Most of them do a good job of protecting your computer from many of these threats, however, there are a few that stand out. If you don’t already have one of these programs on your computer, it’s time to get one.
Basically, there’s no amount of computer protection software that can secure a computer being used by someone that makes simple mistakes. Having different passwords for each website, thinking before clicking, staying up to date, watching out for phishing, and knowing what networks you’re using will all help your computer protection software keep your computer running.