With all of the hacking, denial of service (blocking traffic), ransom-ware, malicious code, and other criminal activity, we might feel overwhelmed and frozen. Luckily for Windows 10 users there is some form of protection from Microsoft that only requires that you allow it to update. While okay for most users who practice online safety, it is not enough for many adventurers.
What I want to do today is go over some simple rules that the average user can use to protect themselves and their files from getting burnt and from hurting other people’s machines. Yes, by not protecting yourself, you can become a liability by becoming a drone or zombie for some criminal who has taken over your computer.
Number one, protect your computer, even the weakest virus protection and firewall software blocks most of the garbage from coming your way. If you have a couple of dollars to spend look at some companies who’ve been around like Symantec and McAfee. If you really don’t want to spend anything there are companies like Avast or on the high end Kaspersky Lab; do something.
Number two, stay away from dangerous sites and content. It used to be that gambling and pornography were considered dangerous, and many still are but that is another type of crime. Unfortunately, there are plenty of message boards, blogs, websites and servers that are not being monitored and continue to run. They are full of software dangers to unsuspecting visitors or used for malicious purposes. There are plenty of websites out there that for one reason or another have not been shut down; running on their own, they become targets for internet criminals looking to take advantage of the lack of protection and security.
Number three, back up important files somewhere, and if possible to the web, using available free space from companies such as Google or Microsoft, or pay services if you need more. That way, in case something does happen, you’ve got a copy. The advantage of using the “cloud” or online storage is that if your machine is physically damaged, lost, or stolen, your files will be there waiting for you. As an added precaution I back up extremely important files to a memory card that has never been used, that way it most likely contains no viruses.
Number four, I know it’s tempting, but illegal free software and downloads are risky, and remember if they’re willing to openly steal they really don’t care about your safety. Many of the “free” downloads sites should be checked out on other sites and see what others have said about them, or if they have had any complaints against them.
Number five, keep your password safe and don’t keep it simple – because that would be stupid. So many websites are hacked, and accounts broken in to, because of people using simple passwords, and worse, using the same ones on multiple websites and access points. The reason most websites are hacked is to get the passwords that may very well be used on other sites by the same user. Most user accounts are identified by email address, and if you use the same password over and over it’s like you’ve created a master key to all your accounts. Passwords MUST contain upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters making it infinitely more difficult to hack and the larger the better. One other tip, try and change passwords as often as possible, I recommend every 1-3 months depending on the level of security needed. DO NOT SHARE YOUR PASSWORD.