Like car maintenance and insurance, computer security is often one of those things that we only think about when something goes wrong. As the old phrase goes though, prevention is better than the cure.
When it comes to keeping your computer safe and secure, the best thing you can do is to be proactive, warding off any threats and stopping them in their tracks. Read on to find out about the fool proof steps that you can take today to keep your computer safe and secure from hackers and scammers.
Why You Should Prioritise Computer Safety
The global online gaming market has seen growth of 21.9% compared to the previous year, this rise has resulted in hackers taking advantage of new players – adding extra importance to secure gaming online.
If you’re a regular run-of-the-mill person who uses your computer predominantly for work and occasionally for a bit of secure shopping online, you may be wondering why you need to go to so much effort to keep your computer safe and secure when doing thing.
Hacking and fraud are surely things that affect other people, with more at stake and more to lose? Wrong. Hackers and fraudsters do not discriminate in who they target, they are just as likely to come after you as they are to go for your neighbour or your boss.
These scams and frauds are sophisticated too, they are not the classic scam phone call or winning lottery phishing email that you might think they are. They are complex, hard to spot and often devastating for the victims.
If you are targeted, your identity could be stolen and sold, your savings could be stolen or you could even be the victim of blackmail. How do you stop all of this from happening then? Here are a few suggestions that will help you on your way to becoming more security-aware.
Use Strong Passwords
It’s incredibly annoying when you sign up for a new website and see that you have to enter a password containing capital letters, symbols and a minimum of 12 characters but don’t let that annoy you.
They are in fact there to keep you and your sensitive personal data safe. In a recent study, Google found that 1 in 4 Americans used weak passwords online like Qwerty, Admin, Password and 123456.
If you use a variation on one of these passwords, then you are effectively leaving the front door open for a hacker to walk straight through. Strong passwords, which feature a number of special characters and numbers are the hardest to crack.
The first step then to making your computer safer and more secure is to ditch those simple passwords of yours and replace them with trickier, harder-to-crack ones.
(Avoid easy-to-guess passwords like… ‘password’.)
Install Anti-Virus Software
Another annoying thing about owning a computer is the reminder you always get when you turn on the PC that tells you your anti-virus subscription is out of date. To get rid of this annoyance and keep your computer safe at the same time, take heed of the reminder and renew your subscription!
Anti-virus isn’t a big money maker designed to take advantage of your anxieties, it’s a useful and effective tool to keep your computer and everything on it safe. Some viruses are easy to spot to the trained eye, but others can go undetected which is where this software comes into play.
It can monitor and detect threats as they happen, ensuring that your computer never falls foul to viruses.
Install Anti-Spyware Software
You wouldn’t read out your bank details over the phone whilst you were sitting in a packed coffee shop whilst someone was listening in, so why would you do the same over the internet? The threat of online spyware is one of the biggest threats to PC users right now.
Hackers use it to monitor the activity on your computer and steal data like the passwords to your online banking and your credit card numbers. Avoiding this threat is straightforward and easy – invest in anti-spyware software.
It will pick up any spyware that is already on your computer whilst blocking real-time threats. Downloading anti-spyware really is a no-brainer.
(Anti-spyware software will keep your information and data safe from the prying eyes of the bad guys.)
Follow Online Best Practice/Common Sense
Finally, the best way to keep yourself safe and secure online is to utilise that oh so finite of resources – common sense. When you’re buying something online, look out for the padlock at the top of your browser.
Only shop with providers that have a valid SSL certificate. If something sounds too good to be true, try to verify it, because it usually is. Read terms and conditions fully. If there are multiple spelling or grammatical errors on a web page, steer clear of them.
Never share your sensitive personal data with someone you don’t know online. Do not download programs or software from untrustworthy websites. Don’t visit risky websites to stream content. Store your data offline rather than online…
Essentially, exercise common sense at all times and ask yourself the question, ‘is this safe?’ whenever you’re paying for something online or sharing your personal data.
It is easy to fall foul of fraud or a scam online, but fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to minimise your risk factors. If you follow the tips detailed above, your chances of becoming a victim of scammers and fraudsters will be dramatically decreased.