Saturday, February 23, 2013
Hack Proof Your PC
Most people live on their computers these days, storing tons of personal information and data that could be used to steal your identity, your credit cards, your bank information, or even just wreak havoc on your machine from a hacker somewhere who is just plain bored. When that happens, the short-term and long-term consequences can be devastating, mentally, and sometimes financially. Instead of waiting until the computer is hacked and you need computer repair, consider these steps to hack proof your PC.
Start With the Basics
Most people don’t really understand what’s happening inside a computer when you fire it up and go out to surf the internet, but hackers do. They know that the easiest way to compromise your PC is through vulnerabilities in your operating system (for example, Windows 8). Hackers spend a lot of time seeking out and learning how to exploit these weaknesses, then use programs, viruses, spyware, and other malicious programs to destroy your computer from within.
While hackers are working on finding the weaknesses, computer engineers from the operating system company (for example, Microsoft) are also diligently working to find the same weaknesses and create “fixes”, “patches”, or “updates” to the system. To ensure that you always have the latest fixes and patches, be sure to download regular security updates. You can even set the machine to automatically check for updates and install them automatically, so you won’t forget and miss something important.
Get an Antivirus Program
There are a variety of antivirus programs out there to choose from, and most will do an adequate job. If you can’t decide and want some help figuring out which are the best, talk to the experts at Computerfix in Salt Lake City and let them help you choose one that is affordable and will provide the right protection for your machine. Even a basic antivirus is better than none, so at least get something.
Use the Firewall
Windows has a built-in firewall in all its PCs, but you want to make sure it’s not disabled. You can check the firewall settings in the Control Panel, and turn them on to their highest blocking settings. If you don’t think that is enough you can supplement the Windows firewall with a personal firewall that will effectively block traffic through open ports and alert you in cases where something does manage to get by.
Make Your Passwords Hard to Guess
With all the different things you have a password for these days—email, bank accounts, credit cards, loan accounts, computers, phones, and more—it can be tempting to just find an easy password and use it for everything. The problem is that if a hacker does manage to crack your password, they will have free reign throughout your system. Instead, make your password difficult to guess, and vary it a little with every different account. Using symbols in place of certain letters, mixing numbers in, and changing the order of the words or letters can be effective for protecting your accounts.
Be Cautious on Clicking on Email Links
Email is one of the easiest ways for a hacker to enter your system, and often you are the one who lets them in. Hackers are good at disguising emails to look like legitimate messages from friends, family, and trusted institutions like your bank. These messages often include a link or attachment designed to install malicious viruses, spyware, malware, or other programs on your machine. To protect your machine, don’t automatically display images or download attachments, and be sure you never click on a link within an email message unless you are sure it’s from a trusted source. If you do get a legitimate message from someone or a company, and need to go to a website, open a browser window and type in the website address yourself.