With so many people using computers connected to the internet in their homes today, the need to take steps to keep it safe and secure has become an absolute necessity. The vast majority of these computers are being used for on-line banking, communication, shopping , paying bills and investing.
People today are even pulling credit reports on-line. All these purposes which are so much more convenient with our computers, involve very sensitive and personal information. If you are doing any of these types of transactions on your computer, it is imperative you are taking steps to protect yourself and your family. Here are some steps that will help you sleep better at night.
Install a Firewall – If you are using Windows (most of us are) the firewall that comes with XP is not even going to come close to protecting you. The fact is, Microsoft Windows has more security holes in it than a piece of swiss cheese. There are several programs on the market that will provide good levels of protection. Two that work very well (much better than windows), are Norton Internet Security and Mcafee Internet Security. These programs both have a firewall. This will protect you from a variety of intrusions. Viruses, Worms, Malware, Adware, Trojans and Phishing can easily attack a computer connected to the internet. Norton or Mcafee will offer you protection from all
of these potential threats.
Updates – It is very important to frequently update your OS (ex. Windows), your browser (ex. Internet Explorer or Firefox), and your software. As I mentioned previously, windows may be the most widely used OS. But it is not the most secure. The new windows (Vista) will hopefully have better security. Also while I am on the subject, if you’re using Microsoft Internet Explorer for your browser you might want to consider using Mozilla Firefox for your browser. It’s also free, but overall a much better product for surfing the web. Either way make sure you get all the updates and patches for your computer. Most of these programs allow you to set them up for automatic updates. So if you don’t want to take the time to check manually on a weekly basis, go ahead and set them up on auto-pilot. If you go with automatic I suggest selecting the prompt me before installing updates selection, especially for windows. This way you will have the choice on which
ones are installed.
Anti-Virus Software – Just use Norton Internet Security or Mcafee Internet Security. Both of these will include the anti-virus software in them. They will also run auto scans of your system and should be set to automatically run live updates so you will have all the latest virus definitions.
Backups – It pays to purchase a removable or portable hard drive. They are much more inexpensive these days. Less than $100 for a 80Gb. You should make a point to backup all your important data and keep it separate from your computer. These removable drives connect to your system via a USB cable.
Don’t Open Unknown E-Mail Attachments – It is a good idea to stay away from e-mail attachments you do not recognize. Even if the e-mail originates from someone you know, it still could be dangerous. Many Trojan Horse Viruses are spread via e-mail. Often times they will come from someone you know. You can prevent a lot of crap e-mail from coming in by using the spam filters that come with your e-mail program. However, these filters at times can also prevent you from getting e-mails you want to get.
Stay Away From Unregistered Sites – Don’t make a habit of going on websites that do not identify, or aren’t registered. If you like to surf gambling or porn sites, don’t use the same computer you use for shopping or banking. It’s best to just stay away from sites you don’t know for sure are reputable.
Turn Off or Disconnect Your Computer When Not Using It – If you have a broadband internet connection (ex. Cable, DSL), your computer is always connected to the internet. Unless you turn it off or are disconnected from the internet, someone can easily hack into your computer.
Always be careful with your personal and financial information. Treat your computer like you would your wallet, If it was full of a lot of cash. Just use your common sense and spend a few bucks to equip yourself with the proper tools to protect your system. It’s like anything else! You lock your doors when you go out of the house, right?. Treat your computer the same way and you won’t be an easy target for hackers.