We use our computers every single day for work, school, shopping, entertainment, and so much more. Especially in the new world of social distancing. It’s no wonder that our computers have become a place where a lot of our personal information is stored. So it’s very important that you keep your computer safe and secure from cyber criminals. Here are a few ideas of how you can make sure your computer is as secure as possible.
1. Keep Your Operating System Updated
Every computer has an operating system — the main user interface that allows you to easily run your computer and access its programs. PCs usually come with the most up-to-date Windows Operating System and Apple computers use the Mac Operating System. Whichever operating system you use, it’s important to keep it updated with the most current software version. That’s because, in addition to making your computer run more smoothly, software updates often include patches to security vulnerabilities that may expose your computer and personal information to online viruses, spyware, or malware.
2. Use Anti-Virus Software
Hackers are always trying to find holes in your computer’s security. They do that by designing sophisticated computer programs to bypass the safety measures you have in place. In other words, sometimes keeping your computer’s operating system up-to-date isn’t enough, and taking a multi-layered approach to computer security is probably best. Whether you opt to buy anti-virus and anti-malware software or decide to download free versions, keep your anti-virus software updated and pay attention to notifications about possible threats.
3. Use a Firewall
A firewall monitors online traffic on your computer network. By installing a firewall on your home network, for example, you can filter out traffic based on specific criteria, including blocking any unauthorized access to the computers on your network. This can prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your computer to see your personal information. Think of a firewall as a first line of defense—a barrier between your network and unwanted/untrusted networks. A firewall can come in several different forms—it can be either hardware or software—Windows 10 computers have a built-in firewall, for example. Your computer’s security software and/or your network’s wireless router may also act as a firewall.
4. Be Careful About the Software You Install
Downloading software from the internet is one of the most common ways cybercriminals attack computers. But there are some commonsense ways to avoid downloading dangerous programs. First and foremost, never download software from an unsolicited link. That means any software download request you’ve received via email, text, personal message, or some other unsolicited source. It’s also a good idea to verify the safety of your software downloads by choosing software from a curated list of safe programs from a trusted publication or source. At the very least, do some research online to determine if a specific program is safe before you download it.
5. Use a VPN
When you connect to public Wifi, it’s possible other computers on the network can see what you’re doing and possibly steal your computer’s information. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a service you can use to log in securely while using public Wifi. It allows you to access the internet through an encrypted private network, which masks your location and your identity. This ensures online privacy, no matter where you connect to the internet—the coffee shop, the airport, or even at home.
With so many uses our computers offer use these days, it’s important to keep them operating securely. Use these five tips, and you can have a more secure computer and keep your personal information safe.