Using computers is a useful and necessary activity, but it can also involve risks to your computer and your personal information. This article gives tips on keeping your computer hardware and software safe. The main methods you can use to keep your computer safe are to have up to date antivirus and firewall programs, back up your data, use the internet safely, protect your data by using secure connections and protecting sensitive data, and keep your computer and information safe by using strong passwords and controlling access to your computer.
Safe Computing Tips
Keep a Clean Machine
- Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
- Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that's an available option.
- Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
- Plug & Scan: USB's and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.
Protect Your Personal Information
- Secure your accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you to verify who you are before you conduct business on that site.
- Make passwords long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.
- Unique account, unique password: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
- Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that's stored in a safe, secure place away from the computer.
- Own your online presence: Set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It's okay to limit how and with whom you share information.
Connect With Care
- When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it's best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
- Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
- Protect your $$: When banking and shopping, check to be sure that the sites is security enabled. Look for web addresses with "https://" which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. "Http://" is not secure.
Be Web Wise
- Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online: Check trusted websites for the latest information, and share with friends, family, and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.
- Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true, or asks for personal information.
- Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.
Be a Good Online Citizen
- Safer for me, more secure for all: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone - at home, at work, and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
- Post only about others as you have them post about you.
- help the authorities fight cybercrime: Report stolen finances, identities and cybercrime to Internet Crime Complaint Center and The FTC