If you look back, just ten years ago, you can see how far both smartphones and computers have gone. Both these devices are now integral parts of our lives, as they are used both at home and in the workplace, with many people having more than one computer, and smartphones, which are essentially handheld computers.
With the number of computer users only set to rise, people are becoming more and more vulnerable to hackers and cybercriminals. These hackers are out to get us, and it doesn’t matter what platform you’re on, whether its Windows, Mac OS or the smartphone equivalent.
The reality is that most users just don’t have either the interest or the time to make their systems more secure, and this isn’t the best approach to take. It’s understandable, as the information available can be rather complicated, but security is a long term investment.
In this post, I hope to make things simple. Computer security is a very large topic, so there’s always something out there for you to learn. In this post, you’ll be learning the basics.
Tips to Secure Your Computer
1. Router Should Have a Good Firewall
A firewall is a piece of hardware or software that is designed to prohibit hackers from gaining access to your network and/or computer system. Most internet service providers come with a router, as standard, when signing up. You want to ensure that this free firewall is good. If you’re an advanced user, you may even decide to upgrade its firmware, for available improvements.
2. Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
There’s no internet security tool available that can protect your Gmail account if you’re using a weak password. It’s for this reason why you want to enable 2FA as an added layer of security, in the event that a hacker is able to acquire your password; if they do, then they’ll also need access to your mobile phone device.
3. Update Your System
The latest Windows operating systems update automatically, installing the latest security patches, ensuring the smooth functioning of the computer. If your the computer is out of date (in terms of updates), then it increases the chances of a hacker gaining access to your system.
You want to ensure that Windows is set to update automatically. It’s also possible for you to carry out manual checks, in the event that you feel the system may not be up-to-date.
4. Never Leave Your System Unattended
This is probably the most obvious tip, but people still make the mistake of leaving their system on when they’re not around. I guess the location of the computer is equally as important. If you have a home server, for example, then you can expect that it will be on all the time, and anyone at home who has access to it, can be trusted.
It’s also not good enough that you implement some kind of screen lock, as it’s possible to bypass it, simply by connecting a device to it that simply siphons off all its data. Data encryption is probably something you’ll want to look at for better security.
5. Back Up and Encrypt Your Files
Not only are cyber threats real, and something you should worry about while on the internet, you should also be wary of physical threats, when, for example, you are out and about and you leave your laptop in a coffee shop, as it can easily be stolen, if you’re not paying attention.
When booting into your computer, there should be a password that end users must enter in order to complete the process. You want to use a strong password. You should also look into backing up and encrypting this data. Even if, for some reason, they were able to figure out your password, all the data on your system will be protected by an encryption vault.
There are many Windows tools that you can use to backup and encrypt your data, all of which are free of charge, so I suggest you look into getting one of those programs up.
6. Be Careful When Opening Attachments
Even if you are super careful and take all the proper precautions to ensure the safety of your computer, there is a good chance that your friends do not. This can become more of an issue once malware has infiltrated and taken over the email account of one of these friends, as it will proceed to send out emails containing attachments which are infected with this virus.
If you received an unsolicited email that comes with an attachment, you may want to verify with the sender, what the attachment is, as a safety measure in the event that they are unaware of the attachment.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT manager who now runs his own computer support website