How Can I Protect My PC?
Most households these days have at least one computer connected to the Internet and the majority have several machines. Protecting them from attack is unfortunately a necessary step so that personal information is not given away unknowingly and also so that your files, photos and data remain safe in case a virus deletes them.
The good news is that by following a few steps you can easily stop unauthorized people from gaining access to your own, your business and your family’s computers. The bad news is that it will take a little bit of effort from you and you must try to keep up to date with the latest methods that people use to attack.
We will be covering each of the topics below in more detail later on but it is important that you understand what the types of threats are and how you can stop them.
- Don’t panic. Viruses and attacks can be a scary thought but if you take control of your computing environment then there is very little reason to worry. Prevention is most definitely better than cure and anyone from beginner upwards can easily stop unauthorized applications from accessing their data.
- Continued education – Make sure you know what the latest types of online scams and malware involve and how to prevent them.
- Load AntiVirus, AntiSpyware and Firewall Software onto each computer that is connected to the Internet or to your home/business network.
- Scan any disks, USB drives or other media before you run them on your computer. This is still a common way for viruses to spread and once they infect your computer they could perform any number of data deletion or identity theft actions.
- Don’t visit sites that are likely to contain malicious applications. The most common types of sites that could contain malware are: Adult sites, sites that offer free screensavers, free application downloads and even free (but bogus) virus removal tools. Also P2P (file sharing) networks and sites offering software cracks are to be considered unsafe.
- Make sure you have the latest operating system updates installed on your computer. Most people still use Windows and normally it updates automatically but you can also make a manual update if a new security threat requires it. We’ll discuss this and other operating systems in a future article.
- Browser tweaks. A browser is the application that you use to view web pages. The most popular browsers are Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari but there are many others too. By making a few simple adjustments you can ensure that you minimize the chances of hackers gaining access to your computer. More on this later.
- Backup your files. This is a simple procedure that many people either neglect or simply forget to do. If a bad virus deletes all the data from your hard drive then you may need backup files to get your information back. You can buy software that helps you to back-up automatically or you can upload your files online. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each method in an upcoming article and suggest some tools that you can use.
None of the above steps is beyond the scope of beginner Internet users. If you start with one of them and work through the list you’ll soon be able to easily make all the necessary changes and keep your computing environment free of viruses and other nasties. As you get more confident you’ll be able to take more advanced steps to securing your data. A little bit of effort now could save you a whole lot of tears, pain and money later on.