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

Are you Intimidated by Computer Security?

Many people are.  So much so that 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 in 2018, 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, 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, there 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.

Unlike in the past, there are now many more controls over when updates install, when the computer will reboot and how often you will be reminded to take action.  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; while you might be tempted to turn off automatic updates, it’s best to leave them on. 

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 have taken over your favorite website and are trying to get you to call and give away your credit card number and other personal information.

These types of phishing scams are designed to scare you into action.  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.

Conclusion

Obviously, these are just the basics, but they could be the steps that keep you from prolonged downtime, identify theft, ransomware and so many other bad things that lurk on the internet.

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.