Five Critical Steps to Protect Your Personal Information and Computer
Computers have come a long way in the past few decades. This, in a way, is a
double-edged sword. With computer technology as advanced as it is now, we have
easy and quick access to conveniences such as shopping centers, bank statements
and health records. Unfortunately, hackers can also work out how to get into
supposedly private records. Hacking can be a real nuisance and cause you great
financial loss or other damage.
Computer security is vital. You can reduce the likelihood of experiencing
identity theft by making your computer as hacker-proof as you can. You need
common sense and the right software. Here are five key points in making your
computer as safe as possible:
1. A firewall is a good way to shield your computer. It is a type of software
that checks all data that enters and exits your machine and blocks any that does
not meet specified security criteria (your user-defined rules). Anti-virus and
anti-spyware programs are effective after something has got into your machine
but a firewall should block the bad stuff in the first place.
2. Scan every file you receive, no matter who sent it. You cannot assume it is
safe to open a 'funny video' file from your brother or a 'cool game' attachment
from your friend because a virus might have embedded itself without them knowing
about it. Your brother or friend might not be using good hacker-proof software
themselves. It only takes a few seconds to do a security scan and this could
make the difference between accepting a virus and denying it entry to your computer.
3. If you receive spam (junk email) do not click on any website links it
contains. Some spammers have been known to send links to try and obtain personal
information. Some of these messages are disguised as important communications
from well-known online establishments, such as PayPal or Ebay, and they ask you
to confirm your password or credit card number. Alternatively, they sometimes
try to upload harmful software onto your machine. You can always forward a
suspect email to the establishment itself to verify if it did come from them or
if it is fraudulent.
4. Do not store sensitive data on your machine. If your computer does get
infected with a worm, piece of spyware or virus, you know that the thieves will
not get their hands on any personal information useful to them. Hackers want
full names, social security numbers, home addresses, phone numbers and credit
card numbers. If you do not save these things on your computer, hackers cannot
get to them.
5. You need to install an anti-virus and anti-spyware program. This stops
malicious code from downloading and installing on your machine while you are on
the internet. This malicious code, known as worms, viruses or spyware, can
destroy important files, stop your machine from functioning altogether and send
sensitive data back to the identity thief. You can be faced with a huge bill to
repair your computer, might lose all your data and someone might be able to
clean out your bank account. It is a mistake to think you do not need protection.
The best way to prevent computer crime is to use common sense and make sure you
have the best software installed on your computer. Doing this protects not only
yourself but also the spread of these malicious files to your friends and business connections.
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