Seven Inexpensive Ways to Protect Your Computer
by Travis Lofley
While our computers are an integral part of both our professional and personal lives, the safety and security of the information stored on them are always at risk. If you aren’t careful, your computer can be attacked with malware, “Trojan horses,” worms, and other viruses. We’re here to provide some tips to help you manage your computer’s security, either for free or at a low-cost. With a computer, you can almost always guarantee a small problem will become a big one if you don’t look out for the warning signs.
Backup Your Drives
Office and technology retail stores sell backup storage units, such as internal and external hard drives, containing varying memory based on your needs. Create a secure backup for your files by using a unit that is not permanently connected to your computer. Every time you add new files, make sure to detach the drive from your computer to protect it from infection in case of a security breach. For as little as $50, you can get a 500 GB or larger drive to duplicate and protect all your files.
Accept Software Updates
While software updates for your computer can be annoying and even cause glitches, there are some from Microsoft Windows, Office, Macintosh, Linux, Adobe, Java, etc. that are very helpful in protecting your computer’s safety. These programs often run updates to patch security deficiencies in order to keep your personal information safer.
Separate Work and Play
Because social media and various online gaming websites attract such a large amount of visitors, they are often the first places where hackers will install viruses and malware. While we all love using these websites, a safe play is to keep your personal information on a separate computer from the computer that you use to play games on or to access social media sites on. Anti-virus software is a good option, but the criminals also have ways of avoiding detection. If you do enter these kinds of sites, make sure to properly vet them and don’t click on any suspicious links or banner advertisements.
Check for Security of Links
This a must-do for any links received in emails or from someone on social media. All you have to do is place your cursor over a link (BUT DO NOT CLICK ON IT) and check the pop-up in the lower left corner of your screen. If the address shown in the pop up matches the link name, it’s usually safe to enter, depending on the kind of website it is. If the link and the website where the link should be coming from don’t match up, absolutely do not enter the site. These are known as “phishing” scams and they can open the door to all kinds of nasty viruses and malware.
Think Before You Click
A common spam/scam tactic is for a sender to include a link or attachment in their email. Never click on the attachments if you don’t recognize them. They may also present shady requests for personal information such as your credit card information, address, or driver’s license number before allowing you to continue further. Obviously, this is a HUGE red flag. Never give your personal information to anybody via email, and always check the website address in your browser address bar before you enter any information. If you have even the slightest doubt about clicking on a link or opening anything on the computer, trust your gut and stay away.
A good firewall will prevent applications from downloading to your computer without your expressed permission. These programs are available for Windows, Mac, and other operating systems. Shop around to see which programs, packages, and rates work best for your needs. If you’re unsure about what to do, a sales representative at a local retailer should be able to give advice on what is available.
Whether you prefer Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or another Internet browser, there are multiple features you can activate while browsing the web such as “SmartScreen Filter,” “Phishing and Malware Protection,” and “Block Attack Sites.” On a browser such as Chrome, you can enable or disable guest browsing and also enable or disable the ability for others to add their Google account. This is a good feature to use if you’re expecting guests will be using your computer.
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