Saturday, 20 July 2013

Top 5 Ways to Keep your Computer Secure from Hackers

As we become more and more dependent on our personal computers for many aspects of daily life, there is a growing need to ensure the privacy and security of our home computers. Most people have a basic idea of the concept of computer security but lack the tools and knowledge to take an active step in protecting themselves. Last year alone over 2 million home computers contracted a virus or malware which is capable of stealing your personal information such as bank account numbers, credit card information, home address, and important tax information. This equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars being stolen by hackers every year because of poor home computer security practices. Experts expect hacking, also know as cyber attacks to increase significantly in 2012.
Use this basic list to help ensure your home computer security safety.
  1. Make sure you computer has update to date anti virus and anti-malware software. Do not use the free anti virus's nearly worthless, and the equivilant of not having protection anyway. Listen, if you can afford a computer, and internet access, then you can afford to pay $30 per year for quality anti virus software that provides both internet security and virus protection. It never ceases to amaze me on the number of infected computers that I see in which the owners were too cheap or lazy to purchase a piece of $30 software. Now they are brining it to me to fix at the cost of $30 per hour.
  2. Do not use passwords that are easily identifiable or easily cracked. I personally recommend passwords that are at least 7-8 characters long and contain at least one of each (number, special characters, upper case and lower case). Here's a tip: if your user name is Mike, do not use a password of Mike. Please please please, make your passwords more complex.
  3. If you do your banking online, use caution to ensure you do not become the victim of a phishing attack. A phish attack occurs when unsuspecting users misleadingly enter their username and password into a decoy website that mimics the real site in appearance only. For example, lets say you do you banking at Charles Schwab and their url = A phisher would setup a site that looks just like the Charles Schwab except their url = Unspecting users will enter their username and password but it will fail. While the user is puzzled, the phisher will then take their information, login to the real site, and transfer the funds to an overseas account. One of the best ways to guard against this type of attack is to setup the additional security authentication processes which are available for almost all financial institutions. Call your bank for more information.
  4. Make sure your computer has the latest operating system security updates installed. The second Tuesday of ever month, Microsoft releases security updates for all of their products. I suggest you enable “automatic” security updates on your computer, and set it to automatically download and install all security updates. One important thing to remember is every single application on your computer is a potential entry door for hackers to break into it. Ensure all applications on your computer are configured to automatic updates. If they do not have automatic updates, go to the applications website check for updates at least once per month. This will help keep your computer secure.
  5. Make sure your firewall is properly configured to block incoming threats. You may need to hire a professional to do this; however, there are numerous websites online which will help you detect potential “holes” in your firewall for free.

If you follow these basic steps to increase your home computer safety, you'll be more protected than 80% of the computer users online. It takes just one or two hours per month to ensure your safety. Its not something you should neglect.

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