Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cyber Security Tips

Cyber Security Tips
Electronics are a ubiquitous part of our lives these days, and we use them on a regular basis—for most people, getting online is as much a daily habit as eating a meal or brushing your teeth. Unfortunately with all the time we spend online, we open ourselves up to potential risks from cyber security threats, such as identity theft and credit card fraud. From staying in touch with friends, colleagues and loved ones to paying bills, researching topics, and shopping, without proper computer security, information about your life is constantly exposed to criminals who would use it to commit crimes.

The Threats

Many people ask, “What are the most common threats, and how do I protect my computer and my data?” There are a wide variety of threats out there, but some of the most common ones you see include:

·         Malware, spyware, and bots

·         Spam

·         Hacked accounts, and “phishing”

·         Unsecured wireless data transmission

These threats can range from virtually harmless—for example, a hacker might just be messing around and accidentally stumble on your information—to life altering. In cases where the cyber criminal is looking for data to steal, the potential that s/he could use your identity to open new credit accounts, steal financial data, create false identification, and even commit crimes using your name is high. If these things happen, catching the criminal and rebuilding your credit and your life can take months, and even years. 

Tools for Protection

While the threat is very real and very serious, there are many ways that you can stay secure online. The key to avoid becoming a victim is to have adequate computer security and to stay alert while you are surfing the internet.

One of the first things you should do before going online is make sure you have up-to-date antivirus, antimalware, and antispyware programs installed on your machine. Spyware, malware, and “bots” are designed to record information about the websites you are visiting, and potentially even keystrokes that could record sensitive information such as passwords. Regularly update this software to stay on top of patches for new viruses. If you need recommendations on the best antivirus software, talk to ComputerFix in Salt Lake City.

Whenever you create an online account, be sure to use passwords that are strong and difficult to crack. It’s best if you can use a seemingly random string of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Try to avoid using common passwords that are easy to guess, such as birthdates, children’s or pet’s names, etc. Also, before you enter any personal information on a website, check to make sure the URL begins with “https” (instead of just “http”). The “s” is for “secure”.

Set a filter on your email to protect you from getting an endless string of spam messages—the electronic version of junk mail. Sometimes these messages can contain links or attachments that will install harmful software, spyware, or other programs. In addition, be careful of “phishing” emails that request sensitive personal information, such as a username or password, and may look like they come from a legitimate source, such as your bank. Never click a link or download an attachment from these messages. If you think it could be a legitimate message, call the company directly to provide the information, or open a new browser window and type in their website address instead of using the email link.

Finally, if you are surfing the web on a wireless network, make sure it is secured with a password. Leaving a network open can invite cyber criminals to hack into the wireless signal and see information that is transferred over the network.

For more tips on computer security online, and an answer to the question “how do I protect my computer?” talk to the experts at ComputerFix in Salt Lake City.



1 comment:

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