There`s a never-ending flow of sophisticated scams and they come in many different disguises, that even the most IT savvy people can get caught in the hacker`s net. From corrupt email links to people calling you claiming to be from your provider, wanting your credit card details or trying to make you install malicious software!
Scams such as Phishing emails, Data theft and Ransomware are at a level never seen before, and you must have the necessary precautions in place to protect your computer by stopping hackers in their tracks.
A lot of people believe they are protected as long as they have antivirus software installed, but there are further preventive measures you can take that can help ensure you keep your computer out of harm’s way.
Here are 10 steps you can take to help fortify your computer and keep those unscrupulous hackers at bay.
1. Update your software
4. System scans
5. Don`t click on links
6. Free antivirus software
7. Open Wi-fi
9. Back up your computer
1. Keep Your Antivirus Software Up to Date
Most hardware devices when purchased come with anti-virus software already installed, it`s usually part of the package, but then it`s up to you to ensure your software is kept up to date.
Annual subscriptions are a great way of making sure you don`t forget to update when your existing software becomes void, but make sure when buying an annual subscription that you click the automatic update option.
Also, download all the virus definitions so your computer has what it needs to fend off all possible threats.
2. Install a Firewall
Always install a software firewall, as this does not always come with your standard anti-virus software package.
A firewall adds further protection to your device that protects it from malicious software. It is adjustable to allow only your chosen programs internet access.
The good news is that both PCs and Macs come with built-in firewall software, ensure that`s it`s enabled and kept up to date.
3. Install AntiSpyWare Software
Another security step you can use to strengthen your computer`s defence is AntiSpyWare software. Spyware viruses are a serious threat as they scan, copy and share your information, including bank account details and credit card numbers.
While AntiSpyWare is often built into your software system, it is worth checking that the antivirus software that you are using has it and it`s up to date.
4. Run Full System Scans
Running regular system scans is another way to keep your computer protected and it`s something that you can do anytime, anywhere. Yet, this simple but effective step is often overlooked.
You should do this at least once a week, and can pre-set your system to do it for you. As scanning can interfere with everyday computer use, choose a time when your device is not needed.
A typical scan can take up to six hours, generally during the night is the time to do it, make sure you leave your computer on and switch hibernation mode off, as otherwise, the scan will not run.
5. Don`t Click On That Link!
Microsoft statistics show that almost 45% of viruses happen due to computer users clicking on an unknown link. Scammers often masquerade as legitimate websites and those that haven`t set their pages up to make you click, but it`s easy to avoid this trap by following a few steps.
The first thing to remember is, if it looks too good to be true then it isn`t, next is to never click on an email link sent by a source you don`t know.
Always scan downloads before opening them, most antivirus software will do this for you, if it doesn`t, check it`s up to date and switched on.
6. Free antivirus software is ok to use
Using free software is ok and it will do the job, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, so considering adding extra security is advisable.
Microsoft provides the Microsoft Security Essentials package, free of charge to all windows users. So if an annual subscription is not a viable option for you then this is the next best thing, and there are other free antivirus programs available, such as Avast.
7. Use Open Wi-Fi with caution
We all use free Wi-fi, but quite often it`s open and this can be a security risk. The advice is to use open Wi-fi only when needed, because if you can access it then so can hackers.
8. Reduce your downloads
When downloading be aware of the source, and only download from sources that you know and trust, as this is another common way for hackers to can access to your computer.
You can protect yourself by ensuring your web browser settings are set to medium-security, note that different browsers have different settings.
9. Always back up your computer
Backing up your computer is the one way you can make sure that no matter what happens virus wise, your files and data will safe
It`s advisable to do this using a three-level approach.
· Your computer
· An external hard drive
· Somewhere else
There`s no point in having your back up sitting in a drawer next to your computer, your house could burn down! there are ways of solving this by using a virtual storage solution such as Cloud.
10. Use Strong and varied Passwords.
Your pet`s name, your kid`s name, their date of birth, backwards! Hackers are well aware of how people come up with their passwords, and once hacked they will have full access, especially if you use the same password for everything, (avoid doing that)!
The best practice is to use a completely random password that has upper and lower case, numbers and symbols.
The steps above are brief descriptions to some of the measures you can take to help secure your computer, but in order to gain a deeper understanding of how to protect your computer against hackers and viruses, it`s prevalent to research a little deeper as to what many of the threats actually are, you can start now and read more about the difference between virus trojan and worm.