How To Protect Yourself with IT Security Best Practices
How To Protect Yourself with IT Security Best Practices

Computer Security is Intimidating

Some people don’t give IT security best practices a second through. They are so intimidated, they fail to take the most basic precautions to keep their data and network safe.  Sure, IT security can be complicated, but with a few simple actions you can protect yourself and your data from viruses, malware and scammers.  Here are some basic steps that will make your computer safer online.

Install a Trusted Antivirus Application

Yes, even now, antivirus is still an essential piece in your internet security puzzle.  These days people tend to argue a lot about which antivirus is the best.  Others argue about the effectiveness of free antivirus applications, or whether you need antivirus at all.  If you find yourself asking yourself, “Do I Need Antivirus on my Computer,” the answer is a resounding YES!

A good rule of thumb: any antivirus is better than none at all.  So, if you want to use Windows Defender, which comes free with your Windows Operating System, we say have at it.  It is plenty powerful and does not require a lot of attention.  If you want to purchase a subscription-based option like WebRoot SecureAnywhere, that’s fine too.  One thing we would recommend against is using freeware that comes bundled with other free applications.  Often times, their applications cause more trouble than they are worth and can severely impact the performance of your computer.

Antivirus will ensure that most threats to your network that make it to your computer are identified and quarantined before they can cause damage.  Also, if malicious software does get installed, antivirus will uninstall or block the program until necessary action can be taken.

Configure updates to install automatically.
Automatic Updates Windows 10

Automatically Install Updates

Software is a work in progress.  Often times, software ships with major security flaws that are corrected through software updates.  Operating Systems, browsers, plugins and applications all carry with them the potential to be hacked or exploited in some way.  Because of this, updating your software as new updates become available can be critical. 

Instead of trying to remember to update your software, or worse, forgetting to update your software, set everything to update automatically.  This will ensure that all your software is up-to-date and secure, and can greatly reduce your likelihood of getting hacked.

Controlling when updates install, when the computer will reboot and how often you will be reminded to take action is now very easy to configure.  This enables users to customize their experience to find a balance between keeping their systems up-to-date and no being bothered or inconvenienced.

Bottom line; leaving updates on is your best choice. 

Develop a Password Policy

This one is so basic that it might seem like common sense, but it’s not.  Many people would rather use passwords that are easy to remember and easy to type.  The problem is, that those passwords are often also easy to guess.  Password complexity recommendations seem to change from year to year, but there are some constants that remain true.  Use uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols to create passwords that are easy for you to remember but hard for hackers to guess.  Avoid using proper names, birthdays or any other identifiable information. 

Change your passwords regularly.  We know, remembering a new password is awful.  It always takes a few days to set in.  That is a much better circumstance than having your bank account highjacked by hackers or your servers broken into.

Never use the same password twice.  You’ll be tempted to alternate a couple passwords on services that still allow it, but don’t.  The whole point of changing your passwords often is to protect against the possibility of your password being on a hacker’s list.  Creating unique passwords will greatly reduce your chances of being hacked.

Don’t use the same password for all your accounts.  Your Netflix password should not be the same as the password for your bank account.  Why?  Because if you use the same password across all platforms, a single breach can allow access to all your accounts.  So, it’s best to change them up.

Be Weary of Popup Notifications

Infected Webpage Scam - If this happens to your computer, do not respond.

We’ve all seen it now.  You go to a website and a red screen appears, telling you that your computer is infected, urging you to call a support number.  It’s a scam.

I think this one requires some repeating:  The red internet page with the alarm sound and the phone number to call is a scam.  A phishing scam, to be specific.  What happened was you hit a compromised page.  Hackers are trying to get you to call them so they can steal your credit card numbers.  They hack into your favorite website and display these fake popups to accomplish this.

Phishing scams scare you into action by design.  Resist!

If you see this kind of popup, or any other kind of popup that seems out of the ordinary, reboot your computer.  When your computer comes back up, if you browsers asks if you want to restore, say no.

Education

There’s no use formulating IT security best practices if they are not discussed among the people in interact with online.  This applies to both your business and personal lives.  Let people know that security is a big deal and that proper precautions must be adhered to.

Conclusion

Obviously, these are just the basics.  However, these IT security best practices could be the steps that keep you from prolonged downtime, identity theft, and ransomware.

Employing the recommendations above will go a long way toward protecting your computer, network and data.  These days, you cannot afford to ignore IT security.

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