Initially, it might look a bit complicated when it comes to making a computer safe and secure over the internet, but actually the most important stuff is quite simple. Everyday 24/7, hackers are continuously working on finding loop holes and vulnerabilities in software and operating systems to exploit them. But keeping the awareness and security measures handy, one can easily stay safe to a much extent and avoid such threats. So, here are some basic but important things that you should follow to keep your PC and information, safe and secure, online.
Keeping Automatic Updates enabled:
Be it Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Office, Microsoft edge, or any other day-to-day use software, almost all the software, we trust to be safe, might have security issues in them and these vulnerabilities are continuously being discovered and exploited.
These days, almost a lot of software come with automatic updates feature, to patch up these vulnerabilities and they don’t require user input to get updates, nor they require to download update files separately online. They get updates in background silently without any user input. But for some reason, most of our friends like to turn automatic updates off. May be you find it annoying to get your PC restarted to get these updates installed or you don’t want changes to happen. But from the security perspective, it’s worth it. So, if you have turned off automatic updates previously, please first go and turn them on now and then return to this page. if you don’t know, how to turn automatic updates on, click here.
Keeping your computer updated is the first and most important step to make it safe and secure. Microsoft provides updates for windows and associated Microsoft products, like Defender, Office, etc. on the second Tuesday of each month, while Apple doesn’t have a fixed routine, but they also provide updates regularly. These updates not only fix bugs, but also provide security updates. So, the only way to protect your PC from known vulnerabilities is by keeping it up-to-date. Hackers are always seeking for unpatched systems, to attack on and updated system keeps you safer.
Using anti virus and anti malware:
Its really a big hunt to search for the best antivirus program. There are many antivirus manufacturers that claim to be number one in the list, but ultimately you have to choose. Personally, I believe that there is no antivirus program better than windows defender or Microsoft security essentials than any other third party products or install any unwanted programs. Who else can understand the internal system of windows deep down more than itself Microsoft, plus it will not try to sell you any other third party products Windows defender updates itself automatically and is very simple to use, and is moreover free of cost. In addition to antivirus, you must also install some kind of anti malware program, like Malwarebytes, which provides protection against Addware, Ransomware, Crapware, Spyware, etc. which traditional antivirus programs cannot.
Use better passwords for enhanced security:
Those days when we could just use a same single password for all of our services and stay relaxed, have gone. Hackers are on the move. Even if a single service being used by you may get compromised, it may keep all the other services associated with the same password, on risk. Thus the better way is to craft different passwords for different services. Secondly, You should also keep your laptop or phone password protected. This will however cause a little inconvenience to you because now it will take a little while to unlock the system rather than just hitting a single button, but keeps the system secure, however. Securing your devices like laptop or phone with password protection prevents your device from being used by others, thus keeping your information secure.
But this is not enough, i.e. the locks can be easily bypassed with little efforts. The main thing is to encrypt your data. Even if someone manages to bypass or compromise your first layer of security, i.e. password protection by some means, the second layer of security will make their efforts useless. if you encrypt your phone or laptop, you prevent thieves from getting into your data by other more advanced means.
If you are using professional or ultimate version of Windows operating system on your laptop, then the good news is that they have an built-in tool called BitLocker to encrypt your data. BitLocker is a tool built into Windows that allows you to encrypt your entire hard drive for enhanced security.
For home users, VeraCrypt is one of the third party tools you need to download and this will encrypt your data for enhanced security. MAC users also have a built-in feature, called FileVault. iPhones and Android phones come usually pre-encrypted these days, but you can make sure while checking in settings.
Never leave your phone or computer unattended:
While this is known quite obvious, but it deserves saying, that never, ever, ever leave your computer or your phone unattended in public. Its not a place where you can trust anyone, better use an anti-theft software both in your phone and laptop, for safety. And there is such a software by the name of Lojack (and now its also available for India). And for smartphones, there are plenty of apps available (take a look in your app store), because safety is our prime priority.
The best case scenario that can happen, if your device gets stolen is you loosing your expensive data (better, if you have already setup instant backups in routine, then you might not loose much). But if you leave something unattended and you unfortunately haven’t followed all the above advice, the worst case scenario that can happen is that someone has your expensive gadget and all of your personal information. All it takes is a kid with slightly more than basic-computer-knowledge to get all your data, and if they have your computer in their hands, it’s a lot easier (if you son’t use encryption-see above).
You must only go through safe links in Emails:
You may receive numerous mails every day, but have you ever investigated the source of an email, is that legitimate? Well, even some emails might look legitimate, as they might have come from someone you know. But if they are infected by some malicious object, then their email might also be. If the emails contain links, don’t just go through blindly, rather check the link. The best way to check the link is to hover (place, not click) the cursor over that link and look for the actual address embedded in that link, as the address contained inside the link might appear on the bottom of your screen, for instance, if a link say “amazon…”, then it should go to amazon.com/…, but if it say something like amazon.click.com, then something is wrong with it. Just because it contains a word named amazon, doesn’t mean that the link is trusted, beware of the phishing attacks. If it doesn’t display any address, the other better way is to right-click on the link and then click on “copy link address”, then paste this in somewhere like notepad, and inspect.
Secondly, you should avoid opening emails from the unknown sources. Sometimes, hackers send juicy mails to patronize the victim, the better way to stay safe is to avoid opening emails from unknown sources and forget about opening their attachments, rather delete them all the way (attachments mat contain malicious content like ransom-ware, etc.).
Be careful while downloading software applications form the internet (and again, say no to pirated software):
And yes, this advice may also feel obvious, and might probably be following it already. But most of the malware that appear on a windows PC is a result of downloading and installing bad/pirated software accidentally or intentionally.
Thus, you should always download software from trustworthy sites, and that make sure that you always get software from trustworthy sites only. If you want to download VLC media player, for example, download it from their official website, rather than clicking a download VLC banner from a third party website, as it may contain a malware as a payload.
Secondly, you must avoid using pirated software. These kind of software are manipulated by hackers, and who knows if they have placed malicious coding in them. While running a program on your PC, saying “the publisher could not be identified”, means that it has come from an unknown source and may contain malicious content, so, be careful.