9 Ways to Keep Your Computer Safe from Viruses and Hackers
Like most people, your life more or less revolves around your computer. You use it to complete tasks for work and school, and to organize important documents. But does your laptop or desktop have enough security to safeguard your personal information?
Computers are powerful tools, but they are not impervious. The more you use these devices, the more you expose them to viruses and hackers.
Most of the time your computer’s information is safe, but without the proper defenses, it may become vulnerable. In this blog post we’ll tell you how to get the right protection for your computer and keep your information safe.
- Anti-Virus Programs
You have probably seen an Internet ad for antivirus software before, but if you don’t have one on your computer, you put it at risk for getting a virus or worse. Anti-virus programs regularly search your device for viruses and remove them before they infect your hard drive, operating system, and files. Mac OS and Windows 8 and 10 have antivirus systems built in, but experts agree that you need additional protection.
Research the following anti-virus programs to find the right one for you:
- Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ 11
- Avast Free 2015
- Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (2014)
- Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free
- Panda Free Antivirus (2016)
- Use a Firewall
For additional computer protection, install a firewall. These programs check your laptop or desktop for suspicious activity and alert you about potential virus-embedded programs. Additionally, firewalls block hackers who try to access your computer.
- Don’t Open Unfamiliar Emails or Attachments
If you receive an unfamiliar email in your inbox, there’s a good chance it contains a virus. Unless you are expecting an email, immediately delete messages from unknown senders. Viruses in this type of email infiltrate your computer the moment you open them.
- Update Your Operating System
Whether your own a Windows- or Mac-based computer, you need to update your device’s operating system regularly. Configure your computer settings to notify you about necessary system updates. When you upgrade your computer’s operating system, you fix any security holes in the device.
- Turn on Your Browser’s Privacy Settings and Pop-Up Blocker
Use caution when you make online purchases and websites ask you for your credit card number, email address, shipping address, and other personal information. Before you submit any details, quickly research the site to see if other people have used it safely.
Internet browsers also protect you from data-stealing websites. Visit your web browser’s privacy settings, and turn them on to protect your personal information. Also activate your pop-up blocker to eliminate the small browser windows that appear on some websites. Most pop-up windows are made by advertisers, but many lead you to infected websites.
- Avoid Certain Websites
You can probably tell in the first 30 seconds of a website visit if it’s harmless. A safe website looks and feels like a website should, and there isn’t gimmicky sales text bombarding you. Some hacked websites may not have these features, but most do. Use your best judgment and do not visit questionable websites.
- Clear Your Internet Cache and Browsing History
When you go online, your Internet browser stores the links from the websites you visit, as well as any information you put into online forms. While you find inconvenient to have your information stored in this manner, this information can easily end up in the wrong hands. Make sure to erase your browser’s Internet cache and browsing history frequently to prevent hackers from using your browser to access your personal information.
- Create Strong Passwords
In the past, passwords with symbols and capitalizations were enough to deter hackers, but today’s hackers are much more resourceful. Use the following tips to protect your computer from these individuals:
Don’t use personal information: Hackers can effortlessly crack passwords that use your pet’s name, your favorite color, or your hometown.
Make it long: Security experts say passwords should be at least 14 characters for optimum protection.
Put together a random combinations of words: String together a list of arbitrary words that would be difficult to guess-like “alphakangaroopineapple”-but easy enough for you to remember.
Stay away from common phrases: Hackers can quickly guess common phrases like “ballisinyourcourt,” so avoid using them in your passwords.
Never use the same password twice: This tactic seems hard, but if all your passwords are the same, hackers can access all your information. Use different passwords for every account and make sure you remember them.
Organize passwords with a password manager: Keep your passwords in one place with password managers such as LastPass or 1Password.
- Back Up Your Computer
Rather than store all of your information directly on your computer, prepare for the worst and use an external hard drive, a cloud-based storage system, or some other back-up device to save your computer’s vital information. If your laptop or desktop becomes compromised, your backup system contains all of your personal information so you don’t have to worry about losing these files.
Even after you follow these steps, your computer can still become infected with a virus, or hackers might steal your information. If you need help removing a virus or restoring your hardware, see computer repair specialist for help.