Ways to Keep Your Computer Safe

You have to maintenance your car for it you to perform properly and this concept is the same with your computer.  You have to maintain it for it to work properly.  A little maintenance can go a long way to have a reliable and properly performing machine.

Whether you use your computer for business or entertainment, school or a combination of the three you should try to keep your computer safe.  I’ve seen computers riddled with bugs to the point where it took more than 20 minutes before you get to the desktop after powering on.   Here are some ways to protect your computer.

Malware
Malware is software designed to interfere with the computers normal functioning.  This includes spyware which transmits information about the user’s computer activities over the Internet and adware which a software that is usually provided for free but contains advertisements.  Today the term malware is synonymous with spyware and adware.  They all do basically the same thing.

One of the most obvious ways to identify if your computer is infected with a type of malware is through your browser.  Instead of getting the results for a search term or going to a bookmarked website you instead get taken on an Internet joy ride by means of endless pop-ups and websites you never intended to visit.

Another way to infect your computer is through a free browser toolbar.  This program is supposed to help make navigating the Internet easy.  It provides shortcuts to shop, search, news, weather etc.  What it actually does is send adware organizations your web surfing habits.

Viruses
Viruses usually infect your computer through email, but viruses can contaminate in a number of other ways.  Your computer should have an anti-virus program that you run regularly.  The scanner should have real time detection.  Meaning that as soon as a virus hits your system the scanner detects and isolates it.  Viruses are release out onto the internet every day.  Make sure you keep your definitions updated.  Enable your software’s automatic update option.

Stay Up-To-Date
No matter what the operating system is make sure it’s up-to-date.  Much vulnerability in software that viruses exploit is patched by the time the virus or malware reaches your system.

Use a Firewall
Not having a firewall is the same as not having a front door on your house.  A firewall is a piece of software that sits between your computer and the internet.  A firewall helps to prevent hacking into your system. Although some routers have firewalls it’s always best that your computer have one too.  Firewalls not only prevent connections into your system, but also prevent connections from your system to a hacker.

Get Educated
Choose passwords that aren’t so obvious.  Passwords like “123456” or the word “password” are easy to remember and also easy for hackers to guess.  Use common sense.  Don’t open unfamiliar emails with attachments.  Don’t respond to emails about winning millions in an international lottery or someone in another country that needs your help to retrieve millions from a foreign bank.  If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.

Here are some healthy habits for keeping your system running right.

 

  • Keep Windows up to date by installing all critical updates.
  • Check start-up processes. Launch Msconfig from the Start menu’s Run dialog and click the Startup tab. Look up unfamiliar entries on a site like AnswersThatWork.com to find out what they are and if you can safely disable them.
  • Keep all security programs up to date. This includes antivirus, firewall, and antispyware programs. If possible, set them to update automatically.
  • Back up regularly. See a most recent Utility Guide (www.pcmag.com/utilityguide) for various methods and programs for backing up your files.
  • Surf safely. Set Internet Explorer’s Security and Privacy levels to at least Medium, disable third-party cookies, and never click on a button or pop-up dialog without reading it carefully. Never allow a download that you didn’t specifically request.
  • Be wary of attachments. Viruses often arrive in e-mail messages with spoofed return addresses, so open only expected attachments from sources you trust.
  • Don’t swallow the spam. Tricky social engineering makes clicking on the links in some spam almost irresistible.
  • Check sites like Hoaxbusters (http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org) as well as those of major AV vendors for lists of Internet scams.
  • Set up your IM properly. Allow connections only from users on your buddy list. Disable file sharing, file transfer, and other advanced (but dangerous) features.
  • Check for vulnerabilities via assessment sites. One favorite is Gibson Research (www.grc.com), home of ShieldsUP! and many other vulnerability assessment tools.
  • Keep an eye on those icons. Antivirus, firewall, and other types of security software place status icons in the system tray. Glance at them every day to make sure they’re active and not flashing any alerts.

PCMagazine.com http://www.pcmag.com/print_article2/0,1217,a=130551,00.asp?hidPrint=true

People that do none of these things are easy targets.  The objective is to place as many barriers as possible in front of the hackers in order to discourage them.