Though the internet is far safer now than it was in its infancy, there are nevertheless more people using the net than ever and this means that there is a much greater field of victims for the cunning hacker or identity thief. Even major corporations, who spend millions each year in computer security, fall prey to cyber thugs every now and then. Citibank is a recent example and their staggering loss of over half a million card numbers is just one out of many high profile security breaches in the past couple years. But regular folks are just as vulnerable to cyber attacks as the big firms, and sometimes more so. But fear not: This guide will take you through all the steps that will make sure that you’re not one of these poor saps.
The single most important and effective way to keep your PC safeguarded from harmful elements is to install a quality antivirus program. You’ll want software that can handle viruses but don’t stop there. Make sure your antivirus also has a spam blocker, pop-up blocker, anti-malware, and anti-spyware. Though many of these harmful programs are considered viruses, it still doesn’t mean that any given antivirus software will protect against them.
While you’re at it, add a firewall to the list of the things your antivirus program should cover. But if you find one that takes care of everything except a firewall, be sure to have some kind of firewall protection for your computer. In layman’s terms, a firewall is basically a safeguard against outsiders using your network. Only those with a password will be able to access your data, which basically means that you’ll have control over who you allow into your network. And, speaking of passwords…..
Passwords are a quick and easy way to increase computer security instantly. But most people simply choose a password and stick with it rather than changing their passwords regularly, which is what you should do. Always be sure to keep altering your passwords for important data like your online bank, your email address, and anything work related.
Even the most safely guarded computers can sometimes run into security problems, especially when a particularly nasty virus is running loose. In these cases your computer could be ruined beyond repair and you might risk losing all of your important data; including items such as important emails, contacts and even that copy of your 1040 form that you filed away last month. This is a worst case scenario but it is definitely a scenario that happens all too often. To safeguard against this scary possibility, make sure to backup your data often and regularly, just as with your passwords. There are free data backup programs as well as higher quality ones that cost between thirty and fifty dollars usually. Some versions of Windows also allow you to backup your data with a Wizard. Whatever method you choose, just be sure to keep that data backed up frequently.
Sometimes the best security solutions are the easiest. These days most internet connections are through high speed ports, which means that the computers are always connected to the internet. This is great for convenience and efficiency but while you’re online you’re at risk for any number of viruses, Trojans, worms, and more. Many experts advise PC users to disconnect from the internet when they’re not currently surfing. Newer computers actually let you select an option that logs off after a certain amount of idle time. Either way, it’s another quick and easy fix that can save you a lot of headaches in the future.