Computers and smart phones have become an integral part of our daily lives at work and home. With usage increasing people are becoming more exposed to cyber-crime whether they are running Windows, Mac OS, Linux or comparable software on a smartphone. Computer security is complex and far reaching and many people don’t have the time or interest to ensure that they have properly safeguarded their computers. Large companies spend millions of pounds on IT security but here are some simple steps that everyone can implement.
All computers should have a firewall, which is a piece of hardware or software that sits between your computer and the internet and only allows certain types of data to cross it. Windows and Apple computers have an integrated firewall built into the operating system, however ensure that it is enabled.
Scan for malware
New malware is being created every day so it is important that you keep your anti-malware software up to date.
To help your computer run properly with the latest security updates and tools it is important to set your Windows updates to run automatically. Most updates load automatically but if you get an alert make sure you click on the task bar. You should also ensure that your anti-virus program is set to run automatic updates for your firewall and virus definitions.
Install a decent Anti-virus software
Anti-virus software is essential for everyone even if it marginally slows down your computer. Some of the best anti-virus protection is free for PCs such as Security Essentials and Windows 10 users will have Defender inbuilt into the operating system. With the proliferation of adware, spyware and malware some anti-virus software is not sufficient for people needing greater security and programs such as Malware Bytes can be used in addition to routine virus scans.
Ensure anti-software applications are updated regularly, preferably twice a day, and check the settings. You should also scan USB drives and external hard drives, especially if the drive belongs to someone else.
A good web browser
A good browser will offer you more protection and whether you use Edge, Google Chrome or Internet Explorer check the security settings to help enhance your computer security and safety.
- Attachments are the most common method of viruses spreading, don’t open attachments from an unreliable or unknown source
- Do not click on links within emails that you cannot be sure are safe
- Always read security warnings but research them before agreeing to anything
- Choose secure passwords and do not share them
- Be sceptical and aware of phishing scams and don’t give way sensitive data.
- Phishing is a common way that online accounts are hacked into and can lead to identity theft
- Do not install “free” software until you have inspected it, often free packages come with spyware, adware and worse.
- Read pop-ups before agreeing to anything
Don’t trust public wifi
When you are using a public WiFi just be aware that much of your web browsing and email is being sent over the connection unencrypted, so that potentially anyone in that public space can be stealing your passwords and listening to your conversations.
- When using the internet in public places make sure your firewall on your computer is enabled
- If you have a 4G connection use that or you’ll need to secure your connection
- Any sensitive website access, such as web email, with a username and password is used only via secure (https) connections
- To avoid password theft be vigilant in public places
Don’t leave your PC unattended
Don’t leave your computer on if you’re not around, this may seem obvious but often when people dash out to lunch they don’t think about the people they don’t know or trust who will have access to their computer.
Regular back ups
If you ever have a security disaster a good back up is the fastest way to recover. The damage from malware can be quickly reversed if you can restore your data to a recent back up.