Keeping Yourself Safe Using The Internet
Keeping up with security for your computer can be a very daunting task. Every time you think your computer is secure, hackers can find another hole, or write new code to get into your system and steal information. Even if you’re diligent in keeping up with the security patches and avoiding certain websites you still are vulnerable to an attack. However, securing your computer is an essential part in protecting your privacy, reducing the risk of identity theft, and preventing hackers from taking over your computer.
Think of it this way. You wouldn’t leave the front door to your house wide open for thief’s to find so they could wipe you clean. So why leave your computer wide open for hackers?
There are many potential risks to your computer. Some are more serious than others. They include:
• Malware stealing your passwords and login information
• Ransomware that prevents you from using your computer
• A hacker using your computer to attack others
• Someone breaking into your system and altering files
• Someone stealing your computer and accessing your personal information
There's no guarantee that even with the best precautions some of these things won't happen. However, you can take steps to protect the risks to your computer and your sensitive information just like you take steps to protect you home. Ultimately, the security of your computer is dependent upon you.
Which Operating System Is More Secure?
Your computer's operating system is the main program on your computer. It performs a variety of functions, including determining what types of software you can install, coordinating the applications running on the computer at any given time, and allowing your software applications (web browsers, word processors, and email clients) to operate. Depending on what brand of computer you purchase, will determine which operating system is installed on your computer.
PCs have the Windows operating system. The current Windows operating system is Windows 10. Apple computers use the Mac OS X. Windows operating systems traditionally have been targeted with malware more often than other operating systems. This may be due to the larger base of Windows installations, which makes it a more attractive target. Apple products usually have fewer attacks than Windows computers. However, Apple's Mac OS X is not immune to security flaws. In fact, as more consumers purchase Apple products, malware makers have begun to target Mac OS X.
So the question is, which operating system is more secure? There's nothing about Apple’s OS X operating system that makes it inherently more secure than Windows. In fact, the only secure operating system is one that isn’t connected to the World Wide Web. However, what’s the purpose of purchasing a computer that won’t be used online?
So now the next question comes into play.
Which Internet Browser Is More Secure?
There are many browsers out there that you can choose from. The main three for computers are Internet Explorer, Mozilla FireFox, and Chrome. Mozilla tends to patch Firefox security vulnerabilities more quickly than Microsoft patches Explorer. One advantage of Firefox is that it is an “open source” program. This allows security professionals to become involved in fixing bugs and building stronger security features. One of the most innovative features of Google Chrome is the sandboxing functionality. Internet Explorer and Firefox run one instance of the browser engine with multiple associated processes. That means that if one or more browser windows or tabs crash or run into issues, it will most likely crash the web browser engine and take down every other instance with it.
No matter which browser you use, it's important that you update it as newer versions come out which address security vulnerabilities. Firefox automatically delivers updates on a fairly frequent schedule, usually every few weeks. Other browsers may not update as frequently and may not update automatically.
What Are Firewalls, Anti-virus Programs, and Anti-malware Programs?
Every user of a personal computer should be familiar with firewalls, anti-virus programs, and anti-malware programs. These programs complement one another and must be used together to provide the highest level of protection to your computer. They are necessary to protect you from threats designed to damage, disrupt, or inflict illegitimate activity on your computer.
Make sure your security software is up to date and runs automatically. A firewall helps to prevent data from entering or leaving your computer without your permission. It helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks communications from unauthorized sources.
Anti-virus programs protect you from a computer virus. A virus is a computer program that can do anything that any other program you run on your computer can do. A virus spreads by first infecting files or the system areas of a computer and then makes copies of itself. While some viruses are harmless, others may damage data files, some may destroy files, and others may just spread to other computers. Viruses can destroy your data, slow your computer's performance, or cause your computer to crash.
Anti-malware (anti-spyware) programs protect you from threats including spyware, adware, Trojan horses, and other unwanted programs that may be installed without your knowledge. Once spyware is installed, it may deploy numerous files onto your system. Some of these files are so well hidden that they are difficult to find and remove.
When spyware is running on a computer system, there is almost no data outside of its reach. Commonly targeted data includes your Internet activity, email and contact information, and your keystrokes. Spyware can track your online activity, looking for websites visited, and financial data such as credit card numbers or financial account numbers on your screen, browsing, and online purchasing habits, and passwords.
How To Use Your Computer Safely
1. Keep your software up-to-date – Turn on Automatic updates.
2. Use strong passwords – Passwords should always contain at least 8 characters including an upper case and lower case letter, one number, and a special symbol (!@#&).
3. Avoid Spam – Never open an attachment in an email unless you know someone, and even then be careful, they could have been hacked and the hackers are sending email to everyone in their address book.
4. Be skeptical - When in doubt don’t click.
5. Back up all your data – Make a backup of your computer frequently.
6. Make sure you are on the correct website. – Scammers create look-a-like sites that have common misspellings of popular URLs, making you think you are giving your information to someone you trust, when in fact they are collecting your data.
7. Protect sensitive information – Never reveal personal or financial information in an email, and especially don’t click on links to a website. Scammers often send emails that look like they are coming from legitimate businesses that includes a link to a website. If you click on the link it will take you to a spoof site.
8. Turn off your computer or disconnect it from the internet - When you’re done for the day and won’t be using your computer for a long period of time, turn off or disconnect from the internet. Hackers search for unattended computers that they can take compromise.
In conclusion, in order to stay safe on the net, you must take precautions to keep the bad guys out, just like you do to protect your home. Always be safe and happy surfing.