UPDATED Security Software
If your antivirus software is not updated (you should have the latest version of the software and the latest virus definitions), it does NOT offer basically any protection. If you don’t want to pay for one, there are many free choices that offer good protection. If you have an old, outdated one installed, you must uninstall it first, before installing a new one.
If you have any important data on your computer (pictures, music, documents…), you should be backing up the data to either an external hard drive or an online backup service – or both! Consider an ‘Image’ backup if you have a lot of programs/configuration on your computer. If your hard drive dies, an image backup lets you restore EVERYTHING on your computer (Windows, programs, data, configuration…), getting you back up and running quick. If it’s not scheduled or automatically running, you’re probably not backing up your computer regularly – so schedule that backup to run automatically. Hard drives FAIL and data recovery can cost thousands. Do it before it’s too late.
RE-USING Passwords is a BAD idea
A bad guy only has to guess/steal one password to compromise your entire online world if you use the same password on many websites. Use a password manager, or create ‘password buckets’ (one password for your financial accounts, one password for your music sites, one password for your shopping sites, etc.) to help keep your passwords organized, but have enough to avoid letting criminals gain access to all of your web accounts. Keep a unique email password to avoid the password loophole. If someone has access to your email account – all they have to do to get access to your online banking account or pretty much anywhere else is go there and click the ‘Forgot password’ link and it emails them a link to reset your password and gain access.
SECURE Your WiFi network
If you don’t have to enter a password to join your home WiFi network, you are leaving it open for criminals to connect and cause havoc. The spammers don’t use their own networks to send spam – they don’t want to get caught – they look for unsecure networks to perform their mischief. It’s not difficult to setup WiFi security. WPA2 is best. Also – be very careful about connecting to WiFi in public areas. Bad guys can setup their own ‘Free WiFi’ networks and unsuspecting people connect to them and all of your data is being viewed (email passwords, etc). I almost never connect to any unknown networks, and if I need to, I’ll use VPN software to secure my transmissions.
DON’T TRASH your old tech
There are criminals that ‘dumpster dive’ – looking for your old electronics. Many of us have saved (or your computers have saved) important information on your computer – passwords, contacts, copies of your old tax returns… When you are ready to toss your old computers, smartphone and electronics, make sure to securely wipe its data.
Keep your software UPDATED
Any software that ‘touches’ the web – keep it updated. Windows, Adobe Flash, Java, Web Browsers, etc. – say ‘YES’ to updates. Turn ON automatic updates. The manufacturers find security ‘holes’ and patch them. You want those patches right away.
DON’T CLICK that link
Avoid, at all costs, clicking links in emails! If you get an email from someone (even someone you know!) or even an email that looks like it came from a real company that says you need to click this link – don’t do it. Especially if it says that there is a problem and you need to click a link and update software or enter any information such as passwords, etc. – it’s a scam – don’t do it. If you think it might be real, delete the email, open a browser and type in the website address yourself.
If you need help creating some new GOOD Tech Habits, the technicians at Discount Computer Service can help you get off to a great start. 410-358-7300.