A computer, in any form; a PC, laptop, tablet or even a mobile phone, is by and large a personal device. You would be using it yourself most of the time, or maybe you’ll lend it to a member of your family from time to time.
Accordingly, it’s important to secure your personal device from security threats. Even if you are not so deeply technologically inclined, there is a need to learn certain basic aspects to be made part of your use of a computer and stay protected.
The potential damage that can be caused to your device if you fail to follow basic security best-practices has to be understood so that you can appreciate how vital they are to enhance your level of awareness.
The top 10 tips are listed here:
1Make It a Personal Device
Your device must be, as far as possible, used by you only. Towards ensuring this, you need to keep your computer locked with a password and even if a family member were to use it to check their email or do some other task, you would know who is using it and you can unlock the device and allow them to use it. But this will make sure no third individual can get access to your computer.
2Turn on the Internal Firewall
Most computing devices run on software programs that include a built-in firewall which blocks any malware making a break-in. Since hackers operate from remote locations, they exploit the loopholes in the internet connection to mount an attack. The firewall has the capability to stop these.
3Install a Good Antivirus Software
Though the firewall as described above is effective, you can achieve better security for your computer by downloading and installing a good antivirus program. These programs are developed after extensive research and are put through tests against realistic threats before they’re offered on the market. These programs also have an automatic updating feature built in and you should have minimum worries on the security of your computer.
4Be Mindful of the Sites You Visit
Despite the protection, you would have given directly to your device, you still need to be cautious while browsing the internet and opening emails. You will be presented with many links in the form of popups and ads appearing on the pages you visit. Stay away from clicking on all of them. You might not be aware which site has malicious links which can breach your device, sit in some corner undetected and later cause irreparable damage.
Here is another quick tip: If there is a security-verified site certificate denoted by the prefix “https”, you will find yourself in the less risky territory.
- Create Strong Passwords
Besides the password you use to unlock your device, you will be required to create passwords in a number of sites, including your email accounts; your accounts on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and so on.
In each of these cases, your password must be strong and unique from the password you’re using for any other account. A strong password is a code or phrase that cannot be easily cracked by an outsider. Remember that hackers are professionals and know the psychology of computer users. You must, therefore, make it as difficult as possible for the hackers to crack your password. Use a complex string of characters, including numbers, symbols, as well as lowercase and uppercase letters.
- Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi
There may be occasions when you will want to use your computer or tablet at a public place. It could be an airport, a hospital waiting room or even a coffee shop. There are open Wi-Fi facilities available in these places but you must try and avoid using them.
The advice is to keep your device locked at these places so that they are not connected automatically. You should also avoid logging into accounts that may contain sensitive information, such as mobile banking accounts.
5Create a Backup of Your Documents
You may feel that some files in your computer are quite important to you. You may have created a separate folder to save these and they may contain information you may need at crucial times. If something were to happen to your system, including if it were to be hacked, you must not find yourself in a pitiable state of having lost those important files.
You must, therefore, create a backup of the folder. You may keep one set in cloud storage and possibly another in an external drive.
6Beware of Suspicious Emails
One of the easiest methods hackers have adapted to infect a computer with malware is to send what are called phishing emails. These are emails sent with attractive messages in the subject and in many cases attachments that carry the malware.
The moment you even inadvertently click on the attachment, they can latch on to your system and go on to make life miserable for you. Don’t ever open emails from unknown people and, again, don’t click on the attachments. Just delete such messages permanently from the system.
7Avoid Downloading Files from the Internet
You may come across some interesting programs on the internet and many times, the sites you are visiting offer free downloads of their software or app. Avoid downloading them from those sites directly. If it is an app, it should be available on the Google Play Store for Android devices or the App Store in iMac/iOS-run devices.
At least some amount of security would have been followed by Google/Apple in ensuring that rogue apps don’t get in.
8Limit the Amount of Personal Data You Share Online
Be extremely careful about what information you transmit via social media platforms. Though your system may be secure, the platform you have posted your information to may get hacked and your data can stand compromised.
If you wish to protect your personal computing machine from being hacked, follow these tips accordingly.
Sophie is a marketing specialist at Security Gladiators. A writer by day and a reader by night, she is specialized in tech and cybersecurity. When she is not behind the screen, Sophie can be found playing with her dog.