Many Internet users don’t know that they need to secure their computers. But your home computer is a popular target for online intruders who may try to infect your computer with a virus, stalk your children or even steal your identity.
Here are some simple ways you can keep your computer safe:
Use Anti-Virus Software
Anti-virus software protects your computer from cyber viruses that can spread to your computer through email, instant messages, and file-sharing programs. Readmore
Don’t Open Junk Mail
Junk mail, or spam, is email that tries to sell you fake products or pornography, offers you ways to make lots of money, or promises to get you out of debt. The point is to make you want to click on the links inside it, which can put viruses on your computer, sell you bad products, or take your money. Email messages that do not show your email address in the “to” or “cc” lines are often spam.
Protect yourself from spam:
- Do delete spam without opening it.
- Do set the spam blocker in your email program to medium or high. (Be sure to check your junk mail folder in case it accidentally catches mail from someone you know.)
- Use Anti-Virus Software.
- Do keep security patches up-to-date.
- Install a Firewall.
- Do reject all email and instant messages from people who you don’t know.
- Don’t open spam.
- Don’t click on links in spam. These links can lead you to a Web site that might put a virus on your computer.
- Don’t reply to spam as this gives the sender your address.
- Don’t open any email attachments from anyone you do not know. These emails and attachments may contain viruses or spyware.
The danger in reporting spam is that you might open it and accidentally click on the links inside. Many services recommend you simply delete it. However, you can forward spam to your Internet Service Provider or the Federal Trade Commission. But do not open the spam and send it back to spammer, since that gives away your email address.
Install a Firewall
Installing a firewall and creating a strong password are two of the most important ways you can keep your computer and your identity safe online.
What’s a firewall and what does it do?
An internet firewall filters all the information coming from the Internet to your computer and protects it from viruses, spamand other dangerous programs. It also protects your personal information and files from being stolen or hacked by an internet criminal.
How to turn on your firewall:
Most computers already come with internet security software that you have to activate. It’s usually as simple as clicking a box that says “Turn Firewall On.”
You should only use one firewall at a time, so if you decide to install a higher security two-way firewall with anti-virus protection, like Norton 360, make sure you turn off your automatic firewall first.
Create a Strong Password
Passwords protect your personal information online. A strong password is a password that is difficult for someone else to figure out, but one that you will remember.
Here’s how to create a strong password:
- Use a combination of capital (UPPER CASE) and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers. Most passwords have to be case-sensitive, which means upper case and lower case letters matter when you’re typing your password.
- Make sure your passwords are at least eight characters. The longer they are, the harder they are to guess.
- Be sure to choose a set of numbers and letters, instead of a complete word. However, make sure it’s something you can remember.
Once you set your password, make sure to keep it safe:
- Do change your passwords often. Once a month is a good habit.
- Do use different passwords for different accounts.
- Don’t say “yes” when asked if you want to save your password to a computer, unless you are the only person who uses that computer.
- Don’t keep your passwords on your desktop.
- Don’t write your passwords on your computer or tape them to your computer.
- Don’t give your password to anyone else.