Computer security is becoming more important than ever with the number of “smart” or internet connected devices we all use on a day-to-day basis.
Therefore we should all take responsibility for keeping our devices, systems and data as secure as we possibly can. There is likely nothing more unpleasant than finding out you have a virus on your computer. The horror of realizing your email account just blasted your entire address book with an email that contains a virus can ruin more than just your day. ..
Below we’ve complied some ideas, hints and tips to help you in your quest to keep safe from any potential IT disaster…
E-mail and web browsing
The first thing you can do to protect yourself from infecting your computer is always to think twice before you click. What I mean by this is simple – do not be fooled into clicking on something that might be a virus or a “phishing” attempt.
Browsers and email clients try to protect you from phishing attacks, but they’re not perfect. A phishing attack is the web equivalent of someone calling your phone, claiming to be your bank, and asking for your credit card number. Your bank would never call you and ask for this information, just as they would never email you and ask you to send the information in an email.
If you receive an email from an unfamiliar source – just delete it. There is no need to let the curiosity get the best of you. You know what they say about curiosity. It destroys computers, or something about cats, either way you get the point. If you get an email from an obscure friend and it has a link that says hey ‘click this link to win a million pounds’, don’t do it. There are a few rules to live by and one of them is ‘If it’s too good to be true, it usually is’. The main point here is to stay focused and not let tricksters bait you into downloading a virus. You need to have a cynical mind set in order to avoid infection.
Take the same line of thinking when dealing with pop-ups. Although they are perhaps rarer now due to web browsers handling them more effectively, they are still prevalent, and generally if you see them its; usually bad news. . Never ever believe the popups that tell you that you have a virus. If it’s not coming from your own virus protection then it’s a lie. Even if it’s not a lie assume it’s a lie, because why would you take a chance with your credit score or more importantly your banking or social media passwords. Popups come in many forms. Some look like they are legitimate alerts and are designed to confuse the user into clicking. Don’t be that person. Learning to distinguish between “good” popups that just want to sell you something and those nasty ones that just want to infect your computer is key. Again, be sceptical. The point here is to learn how the internet works and how most viruses are transmitted. Being smart and diligent in your browsing will go a long way to keep your computer healthy.
Be very careful when disclosing personal information online. Ensure you disclose it only to legitimate individuals and websites. To access your bank’s and other important websites, go directly there — don’t click a link in an email that claims to be from your bank or other instituion, but may actually direct you to an imposter site.
Anti-virus & malware prevention
If you are using a PC you must have virus protection. This is the best line of defense against infection. Although there are plenty of paid programs you can install on your computer like McAfee or Norton, who has time for that nonsense. If you are a Windows user then you can use their free virus/malware protection called Microsoft Security Essentials – if you have Windows 8 or later it’s built in already but called ‘Windows Defender’. It does a perfectly ok job providing you take all usual precautions but you might want to supplement it with something else. If you are careful you can use free programs downloaded from the internet. One program we’ve used for many years is called AVG Free. AVG free does a good job of monitoring your computer. Malware bytes is another really good program from the internet that helps keep malware off your PC. We run both these programs on most of our computers and recommend them to our clients. Periodically running full system scans with both these tools will help keep you virus and malware free. When you set these programs up make sure you set them to auto update. You should also have your computer set to auto update for that matter. Viruses and weaknesses in security are being discovered every day. Updates help patch those holes in it’s defences and keep you safe. Of special importance is to keep your web browser updated but you will also need to keep all you other applications and programs up to date as they can all have vulnerabilities. Some of which you will need to do manually but where possible allow the program to auto update and you will be fine.
Programs & Applications
This one may seem obvious, but so much of the malware Windows users encounter seems to be as a result of accidentally downloading and installing bad software. Be careful about the programs you download and run. Only download and run trustworthy software. Get the software from its official website — if you want to download a particular application, download it from the official website. Don’t click a “Download Here” banner on another website and download it from someone else that may bundle malware or adware along with it.
The same goes for software that arrives via email attachments — don’t open executable email attachments.
And, when downloading software, be sure to watch out for advertisement banners disguised as “Download” links that will take you elsewhere and try to trick you into downloading possibly malicious software.
Whilst the above represents some excellent best practises for you to follow, this is just the tip of the computer security iceberg – there’s plenty more you could and should consider.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of computer security with us at Deep South then please feel free to contact us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 020 8325 5000.
© Deep South IT 2016 www.deepsouth.co.uk