Tips For Protecting Your Computer
As a businessperson, your computer is a very important asset of great value, not only because of the fund expended in purchasing it, but rather because of the vital information that it may contain.
- Why do you need tips for protecting your computer?
- Who or what are you protecting your computer from?
The answer is not far fetched. While we are all grateful for the convenience of shopping online, doing our banking transactions online without needing to go into the banking hall, it is important to note that the same technology that makes life so easy for us, is being used by criminals to defraud people on daily basis.
It is no longer news to hear of fraudsters hacking into computer systems and stealing personal and financial information from people. Recent tools that are available freely online has made it easy for fraudsters to steal information from computers that are hooked up to the internet. Believe it or not computer hacking has become one of the major criminal activities that entrepreneurs have to combat with.
You have two options to choose from, you either take necessary precautions to protect yourself and your important data (personal, financial, etc) from the prying eyes of the hackers or you feel unconcerned until you have a real experience (this article is meant to prevent that anyway).
Preventing yourself from being a victim of the common hacker is not so difficult. It only requires you taking few simple steps and you may not necessarily spend a big budget in getting your computer hacker-proof. I’ll share with you five simple tips you can easily implement.
Install Antivirus and Anti-spyware Software
Antivirus are programs specially designed to prevent malicious codes getting installed on your computer system without your permission. Hackers often rely on malicious codes commonly known as viruses, spywares, Trojans, worms, root-kits etc. These malicious codes will create back-door entrance for a hacker to steal information from your computer. In some other instances, the malicious code may steal information and send same over the internet to the hacker anywhere in the world.
If your computer uses Microsoft Operating Systems, Window 98, Window 2000, Window Me, Window XP, Window Vista, Window 7 etc, then you must install an antivirus. There are good antivirus software you can purchase at cheap prices online. However, if you are a home-based business owner you can go for scaled-down version of the popular antivirus, e.g. Avast Home Edition, another good antivirus that has a free version for home users is AVG Antivirus.
If your operating system is Linux, then you will have less headache with virus, Trojans, worms and spyware. The reason is that, linux operating systems gets less attention from hackers unlike Microsoft Operating Systems. I perceive that is because a greater percentage of Computer users use computers being powered by Microsoft Operating Systems.
Encrypt Sensitive Data On Your Business Computer
Storing sensitive data on your system without encryption is foolish. There is inbuilt encryption software on most operating system. Take five minutes to understand how they work and use them for storing sensitive information such as your full names, social security numbers, phone numbers, credit card numbers, financial details, business related information, passwords, etc. Getting your data encrypted will make it difficult for a hacker to use your sensitive information even if he succeeds in getting them. In most cases, the encrypted data will make no sense to him and he will be forced to just discard them. While there are free encryption software, there are also commercial encryption software. The important issue is that you get one and learn to use it.
Use anti-logging software
There are software that help protect your sensitive data when conducting transactions online. For example, while entering data online, hackers can get your full names, social security numbers, phone numbers, home addresses, work-related information, and credit card numbers as you key them into an online form via the keyboard. This is because not all commercial portals are well secured. It is therefore necessary to install software on your system that will make it impossible for a hacker to steal your information through this means. One good one that comes to mind is Roboform.
Always Scan Emails and Received Files
Even though you have an antivirus installed on your system, you can still create a loophole on your computer if you fail to scan emails and files that you receive from others. Often time, fake emails posing to come from one of your acquaintances or relative may carry a virus, worm or Trojan that is meant to bypass the installed antivirus and infect your system. If you do not scan such file, you will get your computer infected even though the antivirus is fully functional. Don’t be deceived, it is actually possible to have Trojans, worms, viruses residing on a computer that is protected by antivirus. So, installing an antivirus is not an end in itself, you still need to take precautions by ensuring that any file coming into your system is checked for possible infection.
Also note that gone are the days when some type of files are considered safe. It is now possible to hide worms, Trojans, virus, spywares in different kind of files. Beside some files that appear as music or video attachments may actually contain executable files that are meant to infect your system. So, be weary of who you collect files from and what you download into your system.
Install Firewall Software
Once you connect a computer to the internet, a two way channel of communication has been established. This channel can be use by a hacker to gain access into your computer without your knowledge. A Firewall software will create a barrier between your computer and unknown prying eyes. You can prevent a hacker from stealing your sensitive information or causing havoc to your computer system by preventing unsolicited connection via the internet. A firewall is a software that checks all data entering and exiting a computer and it then blocks that which doesn’t meet specified security criteria. Most Operating system have inbuilt firewall software. You can use such or get a better one depending on how sensitive the data contained on your computer system is to you.
Don’t Click Strange Urls
Believe it or not, there are websites that are specially designed by hackers to get your computer infected once you visit and click on a link. Be careful where you visit and what you click on. Fanciful looking graphics and tempting messages prompting you to click may just be a disguised lure from a hacker to obtain your personal information or financial data. Also, some hackers insert such links into harmless looking email messages. Sometimes, the email messages are disguised as important messages from well-known online establishments e.g. your bankers, courier service firms, etc.
At other times, such hackers try to scare their victims into clicking links with threats of closing an account of some sort. I have received several emails purporting to be from UPS, PAYPAL, Bank of America etc. Sometimes the links in the spam email are harmless but attempts to con the reader into volunteering personal information (credit card number), but at other times the links attempt to download harmful software onto a computer.
I discovered that Mozilla Firefox Browser does a good job of warning about potentially dangerous websites when you want to visit such. However, your discretion will always be needed. If you must visit strange sites, then don’t do it on the same computer system that contains your confidential data.
The Best Protection For Your Computer
The only sure way of ensuring that your confidential information remains on your computer system and is unavailable to any prying eye is to make sure that the system is permanently offline and it has no slot for attaching external storage devices. Unfortunately, that is not feasible except you’re trying to go back in civilization. However, with these Five Tips for protecting your computer, you can reduce to the barest minimum the incidence of getting your confidential data stolen by a hacker.