Take Regular Backups
Backing up will always be my number one step. No matter how many precautions that you take including the below steps you must backup. How much data would you lose right now if your hard disk failed, the laptop was stolen, or you became the victim of a malware attack?
You can never have enough backups. You don’t need expensive software packages. A USB device or some cloud storage service will do just fine, but please have at least two copies of your data accessible at all times.
Now stop what you are doing, and backup, please!
Keep your Operating System (OS) up to date. Massively important and NOT optional.
Recent malware attacks have exploited the human weakness of lazy users hitting the “remind me later” icon when asked if they wish to run some updates.
If you use Microsoft Windows OS for example setup a schedule so that your computer will download and install updates automatically.
It’s not just your Operating System though, also regularly check for new releases of other software installed on your PC, an example being Adobe Flash product updates.
If you use another OS such as Linux or Apple Mac, don’t ignore this step. You too need update schedules.
Get yourself a high-quality, comprehensive anti-virus solution.
This can be a free or paid for premium version. The anti-virus will protect your computer from viruses, worms, Trojans and other unwanted software such as detecting key loggers (a type of surveillance software).
Microsoft’s latest offering Windows 10 comes with free anti-virus software. It’s called “Windows Defender Security Center”. When you start your Windows 10 OS for the first time, the built in Anti-Virus and firewall start protecting you. Scanning will be done in real time.
Anti-virus software can slow your PC down.
Sometimes they can consume lots of your system resources especially when a scan is running. It’s best to schedule your virus scans when you are not going to be using your system.
Again, always remember to check that your chosen solution is kept up to date with automatic updates turned on.
Your Connection to the Internet
Secure your home network and stay safe when connected to public networks.
These steps are targeted for those connecting to wireless networks. On your home network you should try the following:
- Use a very complex wireless password key.
- Rename your SSID (your broadcast wireless name). Try not to identify your network.
- Check what level of encryption your network router supports and implement it. For example, don’t use older protocols like WEP. WPA2 AES will be a good option if your network router supports it.
- Keep your router up to date. If you see the option in the settings, check to ensure you have the latest firmware on your device.
- Use a secure password for the login page of your router. As most of you will be aware, you need to browse to a web page to configure your router. Don’t leave the password as the default.
When connected to a public Wi-Fi spot:
- Use https only connections when connecting to websites.
- Turn off public network sharing when connected to unsecured networks. You can find this menu here: Open the Control Panel (icons view), and click/tap on the Network and Sharing Center icon.
- Make sure that your firewall, antivirus and operating system are FULLY up to date.
- Use a VPN. To be covered in another article which will be online shortly so check back.
- Once you are finished with your public network connection disconnect it straight away.
Plain Common Sense
That’s right, no installing updates, software or remembering to backup. Just use some brain power. By this here are some very brief suggestions:
- Have a good password. Use a mix of upper, lower, numbers and symbols and try to have at least twelve characters. Don’t use the same password for every website.
- If you receive an email from somebody that is not in your contact list or you have ANY doubts then do not open it. Especially with attachments, always scan the attachment first I don’t care who it is from!
- Stay safe online by using the https protocol. By using https, the data sent between your browser and the server is secured. Anybody that’s snooping cannot see the content of the data packets as they are scrambled using encryption techniques. How can you tell when using https? You’ll see the lock symbol on the URL bar. It can be clicked on to clarify the page is secure.
- Never divulge sensitive information online. Credit Card information, your address, date of birth, mothers maiden name down to your pet’s name. Don’t give this information out and become the victim of identity theft.
- Only install software by using the download link from the software vendor’s website. Don’t install anything unless you know for 100% certainty that what you’re installing is what you intend to install. Be especially wary of sites informing you that your PC might have a virus and prompt you to download software. Legitimate companies do not carry out this type of behaviour.
While simple, I hope that you have found some of these steps helpful. They aim to help keep your computer and your data safe. We have plenty of other articles on this website on security topics, and we recommend that you read them to be fully informed.
If you would like some light bed time reading we recommend this book that you can get on Amazon. Here is the link.