From online banking to scrolling through our social media pages, many of us use the internet on our computers on a daily basis. But we aren’t the only people online. Cybercriminals also use the internet. However, unlike us, they are exploiting it for less-than-respectable purposes. They want to compromise our machines, access our information and, quite possibly, rob us of our finances too. They can do this by installing viruses and malware onto our computers. So, to protect ourselves from them, we need to take actionable steps to prevent them from gaining access.
Here are just some of the things you should do to protect your computer.
#1: Install antivirus software onto your computer
Whether you use a free security program from the likes of Microsoft or Avast or pay for something with potentially stronger security settings, ensure you have something installed onto your machine. Such software will work in the background on your computer. It automatically blocks any malicious threats that could compromise your personal information online. Of course, hackers come up with new ways to infiltrate your computer all the time, so whenever you are prompted to update your antivirus software program, do so, as the new patches will be specifically designed to thwart any new viruses and ploys that today’s hackers are using.
#2: Scan your computer regularly
Unfortunately, our computer systems can still be infiltrated by malware,. Maybe we downloaded some third-party apps onto our computers. Any file-sharing sites that we visit online can have malware too. Of course, using our common sense, we shouldn’t download anything that could be unsafe anyway. But mistakes do happen. So, manually use the tools provided by your computer’s operating system to scan your computer, and do the same with the antivirus software on your machine.
If malware has infected your computer, use the options available on your software and OS to clean your hard drives. Or, use a malware removal tool that can be downloaded from the internet to clear your machine of those apps and files that have been infected. Click here for advice on one such tool available on the Mac. Run a scan once a month, since it’s better to be safe than sorry.
#3: Don’t click on sketchy email links and attachments
If you get an email from somebody you don’t recognize, think twice before clicking on the links or attachments. Even if you know the person sending the email, don’t click suspicious-looking links. They could be part of a phishing scam circulated by hackers, and they could infect your computer with viruses and malware. So, check with the sender before clicking on the link. Give them a call to confirm that the email has been sent by them, and check the advice here on how to recognize a phishing email. Consider the same for any texts you receive, or any messages on social media that might also contain links and attachments designed to infiltrate the devices you are using.
#4: Use a strong password
Like I talked about in my article on protecting your mobile devices, use a strong password to protect your computer accounts. This way, even if a hacker is able to infiltrate your computer, he or she will have a hard time trying to access those accounts that contain your personal data. So, don’t use your birth dates as passwords. Don’t use any words that could be easily guessable after a quick search of your computer either. Use a random password generator or include asterisks and other characters within the code you have used to make it harder to crack.
#5: Use secure sites
So, for those websites that require login details, be alert to those security signs to indicate that you are safe. If you don’t spot them, don’t run the risk,. Today’s hackers can easily mimic those websites that you might usually use online and will steal your login information through the malware they have spread on your computer.
These are just a few suggestions on how to protect your computer from viruses and malware. Be sure to read other articles online too, paying special attention to those blogs and tech sites that can alert you to the latest methods being used by cybercriminals today. After all, the better educated you are on the matter, the safer you will be online.