If you’re like most people, you likely use a computer daily for work and/or personal tasks. You probably store or transfer a variety of sensitive data on your computer, too, and pay bills through online banking.
While these jobs are all necessary and beneficial, there are also risks that come with computer usage. Hackers regularly break into and crash systems and steal personal data for nefarious reasons. They manage to come up with increasingly sophisticated means of doing so, too.
Individuals must, therefore, take steps to keep cybercriminals at bay, and information protected from prying eyes. These strategies don’t have to cost you a lot of time, money, or energy, though. Here’s what you can do today.
Use Security Software and Firewalls
Keep your devices protected from hackers and their viruses by using quality security software. Free antivirus options are available, but often they’re not enough to thwart cybercriminals these days. It’s best to purchase comprehensive antivirus protection that mitigates multiple threat types and all the latest techniques hackers use. Search for security software that includes functionality such as not just preventing virus infections but also removing them completely if found on systems.
It pays to use firewalls on your computers, too. These are helpful because they add an extra layer of security hackers have to get through, and they’re designed to help protect against threats coming through via an internet connection.
Years ago, consumers typically had to pay for firewalls, but this has changed. Today, most manufacturers automatically install decent firewall programs on their products when they create them. Do note, though, that these tools aren’t automatically switched on. Check the settings on your device(s) to ensure the firewalls are activated and doing their job.
You should keep software programs updated at all times. Run updates on the security software and firewalls mentioned above, as well as on other systems such as browsers, operating systems, games, plugins, applications, and more.
The reason for doing this is that developers regularly look for security gaps in their products that hackers are exploiting or could do if they discover them. They plug these holes in security through new versions of programs. If you don’t run the latest designs, then, you leave yourself vulnerable.
Many people ignore these update alerts when they pop up, but do so at your detriment. It’s best to set up automatic updates on all software types so that as soon as new versions become available, they’re downloaded.
Most operating systems these days have an autorun feature installed. Not many people realize this functionality can actually give cybercriminals more of an “in” to computer systems, and should therefore be disabled for ultimate protection.
Since computer viruses propagate by attaching themselves to a drive and then installing automatically onto other connected media from there (think thumb drives, network drives, and external hard drives), the autorun feature enables viruses to circulate more quickly. Stay safer by disabling autorun ASAP.
Stop Automatic Image Preview
Something else to stop on your computer is the automatic image preview tool. Unfortunately, many viruses are encoded into graphics, which means that if you automatically display them on your computer when they pop up, you leave yourself more prone to infections.
Microsoft Outlook and many other email programs and other systems have this function built in, particularly on older versions. Developers have realized the risk these days so don’t tend to set it up as an automatic thing as much now, but if you’re running older software, it’s probably designed to preview images automatically. Check this on your computer today to find out if you’re more at risk of a virus attack than you need to be.
Choose Good Passwords
Passwords are another crucial factor in keeping hackers at bay. Set up a password on startup on your computer, even if no one else uses the device. Plus, use strong passwords on your email program, social media accounts, bank accounts, and any other online systems you login to. Doing this will reduce the likelihood of a cybercriminal breaking into your system or network via online methods.
Proper passwords feature eight characters at a minimum, and a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols. Update your passwords a few times per year, too, for added security, and use different codes across different platforms so if one is compromised by a hacker, not everything will be at risk.
With a plethora of viruses created by cybercriminals annually, you must take steps to protect yourself and your data. By utilizing just a few key strategies to stay safe, you should avoid having viruses cause too many issues in your personal and/or working life in the future.