How to Setup Safe Computing Environments
Our computers house a lot of our personal details and this makes it all the more essential to set up protective means and maintain a safe overall computing environment.
Here we will discuss some of the important steps that will ensure that your computer remains safe from numerous unsolicited activities going around in the online world.
- Keep the computer patched properly
An unpatched computer will have vulnerabilities that may be exploited by hackers. Keep the automatic updates on and have the machine patched.
You must update your web browser on a regular basis to be one step ahead of the spammers. By updating the browser, you can make sure that you are using the most updated version of the browser, equipped with the most up-to-date security patches.
Choose strong passwords
Use a combination of letters, special characters, and numbers while creating passwords and create unique passwords for each of the accounts. Also, have an effective password management system to track your passwords. These systems are inbuilt in many browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and works across a number of devices such as tablets, computer, and smartphones.
It is another good idea not to use actual answers while setting password security questions so that hackers cannot tack get to your password.
Make use of anti-virus software and spam filtering tools
Anti-virus software and spam filtering tools can scan every download you have or any email you have received for malware. If at all any malware is present, these tools will quarantine it and will prevent you from opening it. Thus, it keeps your computer free from being infected by these malwares. Hence, while selecting your antivirus, always opt for the feature that deciphers email contents.
Use secure connections and secure sites
When we are connected to the internet, our data is more vulnerable, while in transit. Use secure file transfer options as much as possible.
Also, it is advisable to use secure sites always – sites that have a prefix of https:// instead of HTTP:// at the start of the URL. At the address bar, always search for a green lock while accessing bank sites or while entering your credit card details. Be doubly careful while shopping at a site that ships items to you from overseas locations. Visit the sites directly rather than going through links received from unsolicited sources.
You should be very much careful while handling your profiles on the social media as well. Divulging of seemingly innocent information on such platforms may also lead to an identity theft as well.
Resist the temptation for improbable deals
Some unscrupulous sites tend to lure customers with improbable or seemingly unpredictable deals that are fake in nature. Once they can track your credit card information, they can create havoc with your hard-earned money. Always remember the thumb rule- if an offers seems too good to be true to you, there is every chance for it to be so.
Safe Use of email
In most cases, the automated email filter marks some emails as ‘spam’ and redirect these to the ‘spam’ folder. These emails usually include tempting offers, advertisements, information about cheap prescription drugs etc. We must ensure that we scrutinize the contents of these emails before deciding on to open attachments or to click on the hyperlinks provided. We should not try to download email contents that are blocked by our email service providers.
You should never respond to spam emails as through your reply the spammer will get to know that your email address is working, and he will try to target your email constantly in future.
Have your firewall checked
Do have in mind to check whether your firewall is ‘connected’ or ‘on’- whether you use PCs, tablets or other devices. Having a proper firewall is a major step towards keeping criminals at bay. Also, do not make provisions for your folders and files to be visible or accessible to other machines. Have your media and file sharing completely disabled.
- Have a proper backup of your data
Having a proper back up helps to protect your critical documents in the event of a possible attack by ransomware ( that may encrypt your sensitive data), a severe electrical outage or a computer crash. There are two major solutions to a proper backup- external hard drives and online storage.
External hard drives
If you want to have immediate access to large files or you do not want to spend a hefty monthly amount – the option of an external hard drive is just the perfect one for you.
But, external hard drives are as vulnerable to theft or fire as your computer is. Hence, we would always recommend you to have a hard drive in addition to a cloud-based storage for the important data that you just cannot afford to lose.
Most prominent cloud-based storage services provide a lot of offers if you have got a large storage to make. If you have important photos that you do not like to lose, cloud-based storage is an excellent option. After signing into one of such services, you should put your important photos and documents into a specified folder on the desktop or hard drive. This folder will then be synced to the cloud storage allotted for you. With a tablet, pc or phone, you can have access to your files from any corner of the world. You may also have your files synced between devices so that you get the dual benefit of an external hard drive and a cloud-based storage in conjunction.
Most of these services facilitate encryption of files during the process of transferring files from your PC to their designated servers, where the files will remain in encrypted form on the server. Some may even provide a program to encrypt files before the process of uploading starts as a measure of additional protection.
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers