Computer Safety Tips For Protecting Your Personal Information

You’ve heard about it on TV or read about it in magazines – people having their identities stolen online. This can lead to thousands of dollars in debt or worse. There is good news, however. Most online stores now have very secure sites, and there are more and more ways of protecting your personal information both online and offline.

First, install programs to protect your computer from hackers and viruses. These include a good firewall, a virus scanner, and an adware/spyware scanner. Windows does include a free firewall program with it, so if you don’t want to download any other program, make certain the Windows firewall is up and running. When it comes to virus and spyware programs, you can either visit your local computer store for recommendations or download a free program online. Note that many free virus scanners are actually trial programs that expire, so be sure to read all the information so you don’t end up searching for another program or paying for a full version.

Once you have these programs installed on your computer, you’ll need to remember to run the virus scanner and spyware scanner on a regular basis (once a month is probably good). Your firewall will run by itself, although you will interact with it frequently at first as it learns which sites and programs are OK and which ones should be blocked.

Another tip on protecting your information is to be a smart online shopper. Generally, sites like Amazon.com, eBay, and online stores associated with trusted companies like Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble are very secure, and you shouldn’t worry about entering any information on them. However, if a site you haven’t heard of before asks for your credit card, you should be cautious. Likewise, be wary of any site that doesn’t look like it was created by a professional – often, these sites are scams.

Along the same lines, watch for email hoaxes. Remember, no company is ever going to email you asking for your credit card number, password, or other personal information. The links in these emails almost always go to fake websites. Remember, the general rule of thumb is that if it looks at all suspicious, don’t enter any personal information.

Computer Maintenance Tips – Keep Your Computer Running Smoothly

Computer maintenance is key to keeping your computer running smoothly. There are many problems that can arise with any computer system, but knowing what to do can keep those problems to a minimum and doing them before there is a problem can help you avoid problems that will cost you a lot of money. Simple things like virus scans and optimizing your web browser can help, as well as maintaining non-essential programs can help increase the life span of your computer as well as optimize your computers efficiency and speed.

Some people think that more is better. The more programs that you have on your computer, the better your computer is. In fact, the more programs you have on your computer, the worse your computer can get. The start up cache, which is the programs that come online when your computer boots up, can bog down the speed of the system causing many different kinds of errors. Among these errors are speed issues and “not responding” errors on running programs. The start up cache will cause your programs on your computer to run so slow that they will stop working all together. This causes an error on the program that says “This program is not responding”. It can also cause your internet connection to seem slower. In actuality, the internet connection is probably fine, but the web browser is running very slow. By eliminating non-essential programs, or programs that do not get used all the time, you can boost the speed that your computer functions at.

Anytime a web site is opened, information is being downloaded. In fact, it says so at the bottom of the browser. This can give way to things like pop-ups. Pop-ups are a type of virus called ad-ware and can open your computer to problematic viruses like Trojan’s and worms that can cause massive amounts of damage to a computer. However, with the right anti-virus program, you can keep them from being a problem. Of course, what good is a vaccine if you do not use it? Running a virus scan every day or every other day can save you from having to spend a lot of money on computer repair in the future. Eliminate the issue before it becomes a serious problem.

A lot of connection issues can be fixed by simply optimizing your web browser. Deleting the cache, cookies, and browsing history can assist in speeding up your internet connection. Doing this regularly can also help protect you browser from becoming corrupt. When you visit a web site, your browser automatically saves the information from that site to your computer just in case you want to go back and see that site again. If too much information is saved, it can slow down the connection time and leave the system opened to viruses.

By remembering to use caution when visiting web sites and checking your email, as well as using an anti-virus program regularly, you can maintain your computer without having to spend a great deal of money. Also, be careful around your computer. Sometimes, the things that we do in the computer are not nearly as harmful to the computer as what we do around it. Dropping and bumping a computer is never a good idea. Keep anything electronic away from electromagnetic fields. Do not allow your computer to be subjected to temperature changes, nor liquids of any kind. Dust and dirt is also bad for the computer. Be mindful of where your computer is and what is around your computer as well as what you do while using your computer and your computer system will have a much longer life.

Hacker-Proofing 101: Computer Security Tips

The term ‘Hacker’ has been rampant around the internet recently. Actually, it has been the dirty word of the internet since the 80’s and the classic hacker movies of the early 90’s. It’s not a word you want to throw around loosely; it scares people and causes panic because the path of destruction can be crippling.

Whether your 15 year old opened a scam email and infected your family computer, or a virus has taken down your entire system at the office – most people have witnessed the effects of an online security breach.

While the term Hacker has seen resurgence (particularly in the social media channels) with the handywork of LulzSec, and the recent attacks in Syria and Hong Kong; now might be a good time to review a few tips to reduce your computer security risks.

Computer Safety Tips:

  • Run an updated virus protection: viruses change on a daily basis, make sure you have the right protection and that it isn’t out of date or expired.
  • Change your password regularly: Even a slight adjustment every few months will help, and keep it a secret!
  • Read and pay attention to the terms and copyrights of downloaded files: Don’t just click ‘OK’. Do a little bit of reading into what the file contains and where it will end up on your computer.
  • Make sure your OS (Operating System) is patched: You can be left vulnerable without proper and up-to-date patches. If you are unsure about the staus of your patches, talk to your IT team (or infrastructure host) regularly about updates.
  • Run backups on all your files! It’s simple, but too often underused. Just like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, you will be happy you did.
  • Be conscious of how you are transmitting personal or sensitive information: don’t send credit card info or passwords in the body of an email, it’s just not safe. If you need to send information, attach it as a file or even better – pick up the phone and communicate it verbally.
  • Lock your computer when it is unattended: this will save you from pranks and information stealing. It’s like leaving your baggage unattended at airports…
  • Be careful of resource-intensive software/streaming files and media. Be proactive, set rules and limits at home and at the office. Make sure all media is downloaded from a reputable source.
  • Choose a reputable host: Ask questions about security methods/systems, read customer testimonials, get what you pay for!

Some of these tips seem simple, routine and come second-nature. But incorporating all of these suggestions into your regular computer habits can save you a lot of devastation, recovery time and money at the hands of a hacker or a virus.