11 Ways To Protect Your Computer From Malware
We use our computer to do so many things. We google information, we go online to shop, handle our bank accounts, play games, and stay in touch with family and friends. Because of this, our computers contain a lot of information about us. This information could include banking and other financial records, as well as medical information. If your computer is unprotected, hackers, identity thieves, and other fraudsters may be able to get access and steal all your personal information. Spammers could also use your computer as a “zombie drone” to send spam that looks like it came from you. Different kinds of malware could be deposited on your computer, slowing it down or destroying your files.
It is therefore very important that you use safety measures and good practices to protect your computer so that you can also protect your privacy as well as your family.
Here are some of the things you can do to ensure your computer’s safety:
1. Install Anti-Virus/Malware Software
You’d be surprised at the number of computers, especially home computers, that don’t have anti-virus/malware protection. Installing an anti-virus onto your computer is the first step in keeping your computer protected from malware.
Free anti-virus is not the best solution but it’s better than nothing.
2. Keep Your Anti-Virus Software Up-To-Date
The first step to protecting your computer is having protection software. The second step is maintaining it. New malware gets released all the time. Keeping your anti-virus up-to-date ensures that it can protect your computer from new malware. Your scanning software is only as good as its database. Make sure that you always update it.
3. Schedule Scans To Run Regularly
Again, this is sort of a non-brainer but most of us are too busy to remember this. Setup your software of choice to run at regular intervals, most preferably once a week. It can be difficult to work on your computer while your anti-virus is running a scan so it would be a good idea to schedule it at night while you’re not using your computer. Make sure you leave the computer on and it doesn’t shut off automatically or go into hibernation mode.
4. Keep Your Operating System Up-To-Date
Operating System developers are always issuing security patches that fix and plug security leaks. These patches keep your system secure. Make sure your computer has them by keeping your operating system up-to-date. Fix your settings in such a way that you are notified when there are new updates or your computer auto-downloads the updates for you as soon as they become available.
5. Make Sure Your Network Is Secure
If you keep your Wi-Fi open, never broadcast it. Make sure that your Wi-Fi connection requires a strong password. By strong, we mean your password should be a combination of lowercase, uppercase, symbols, and numbers. Use the WPA or WPA2 encryption, not WEP. It is also never a bad idea to hide your SSID (the name of your network) so that only you can see it and malicious users won’t have access to it.
6. Think Before You Click
Be wary of what you might be getting yourself into. Avoid websites that provide pirated materials as they are more likely to contain viruses that are just waiting for your click. Do not open e-mail attachments from unknown senders. Always hover on links, especially the ones with shortened URLS, before you click on them so you can see where they are really taking you. Make sure you scan everything you download before opening them. You could also check if your antivirus software can do this automatically.
7. Protect Your Personal Information
Because of the number of social media accounts and the amount of time we spend on them, this one could actually be the hardest thing to do. However, it is important to keep your personal information private. Many hackers will access your files not by brute force, but by social engineering. Lock down all your privacy settings and avoid using your real name or identity on discussion boards.
8. Don’t Use Open Wi-Fi
Never use open Wi-Fi. Open Wi-Fi connections are Wi-Fi connections that don’t have any passwords or encryptions. If an ordinary user like you can access it so easily, what do you think an experienced hacker can do? When you setup a wireless connection at home, it is recommended to add security to it. There are several types of password that are used to secure your Wi-Fi Connection.
9. Backup Your Files
Always backup your files. You never know when you might lose them. Although data recovery is possible in some cases, it is not 100% reliable. Backup your files so you won’t have to deal with data loss. It is always safe to have your files in at least three places: where you work on them, on a separate storage device, and off-site. Keep your files on your computer, back them up to an external drive, then back them up in a different location.
10. Use Multiple Strong Passwords
Never use the same password for two or more accounts, especially your back account. Make sure that you use strong passwords (combination of lowercase, uppercase, symbols, numbers) as well. It is always a good idea to use passwords that are easy to remember but hard to guess. Don’t use dates or names.
11. Use A Firewall
A firewall is a protective system that lies between your computer network and the Internet when used correctly. Firewalls prevent unauthorized use and access to your computer. Their job is to carefully analyze data entering and exiting the network based on your configuration. Firewalls can be hardware, software, or both. Read more about firewalls here.