There is no much argument that computers have revolutionized the 21st century to an extent that they are literally nowadays become basic needs. However, with revolution of computers, the amount of data that can be accessed online is enormous which raises the question of how do we secure our data from cyber threats and vectors? Threats may attack in many ways like a lot of users innocently download malicious software or disable firewall on their system, outdated software, weak passwords, unsecured browsing and many more. In this article, we will go through some useful tips for offline and online user behavior that will help users avoid threats coming to your computer and keeps the PC system secure and safe.
Online Safety Behavior Tips
Below are few online safety that users should keep in mind while interacting with the web world. Ignoring such tips can cause high damage to online presence as well computer system.
1. Always Connect to Secure Networks
Most of us use the Internet on a daily basis while avoiding the risks associated with this wonderful resource. The simple logic behind connecting to the Internet is that you are simply connecting and communicating to millions of computers. Of course, billions of people are using the network, it is easy to fall prey to malicious attacks. So what should you do?
The best way to secure network is to involve a network administrator whenever you can. Internet service providers can also be contacted just in case you are using a Wide Area Network-like a mobile network carrier. If you use a personal router then you can simply do some tweaks to beef up security. Some of the measures you can implement include:
- Changing the login details of the router
- Perform MAC address filtering to ensure that the computers connected to the router are known and trusted
- Using a good encryption schemes like WAP2-APS
- Change the default name of the router-better known as the SSID
2. Avoid random clicks
Users generally get the unknown or a third party message or email that looks legitimate and ask to respond from users. Once users click on such mail, the malware hidden in the URL start to download malware on a PC and monitor for long time to gain control the system or cause damage to OS. So avoid random click to avert virus entering into a computer. If a user finds an empty mail or message, but only contains a link, then avoid such bogus mail as it may contain a virus or may redirect a user to any fake website.
3. Do not download third party/unknown software
Many sites offer free software over the internet, but the question is about their safety. If a user download third party software or from an unknown source, it is an open welcome for malware or virus to your computer. Malicious software passes viruses on a PC and monitors the activity of a user. Always use genuine or authenticate platform to download software otherwise a user may
4. Practice Safe Browsing
It is very difficult to instill a habit of taking security measures whenever we browse, but it is something you need to improve on. Things like being conscious of the kind of emails, you receive and avoiding free downloads from untrustworthy sites could save your computer from attacks. Always browse in incognito mode to save your browser from tracking. Never try to open file attachments, you download from unknown emails or suspicious sites. In fact, if you download them, scan the files first. Do not browse unnecessary sites or harmful sites as these sites have spyware or adware that can hijack your browser and may redirect to phishing site.
When you shop anything online, always confirm that the website is secure with SSL certificate. To ensure that you should check some security signs like https and padlock icon presented in the browser address bar. If you find the company name in the green text just before the URL, it means the website is using EV SSL certificate and online business has been passed through the extended validation process. Major banking and government websites are using EV SSL certificate to provide maximum trust to online users.
5. Use Strong Passwords and Never re-use the same Passwords
The growth of computers has resulted in a spike in the number of password theft that you are needed to produce for authentication purposes. Many re-use these passwords just to avoid confusion. The idea is a smart one until it leaks out and ends up in data theft. The first thing you should always keep in mind is that you should avoid predictable login details, and ensure that the passwords are unique from site to site. You can use a password manager to keep track of the passwords just in case you have multiple passwords, but always try to store them in your mind-after all.
Offline User Safety Tips
Apart from the above online safety tips, users should follow below offline safety tips that can keep computer system safe and sound.
6. Use Trustworthy Antivirus Software
Generally most users go with free antivirus rather than premium version. Do not go for free or low quality antivirus products as they have fewer embedded features. Antivirus programs work on the principle of detecting malware in computer memory depending on virus signatures. Virus signatures always change frequently means it is good practice to keep updating the antivirus programs frequently.
7. Use a Least Privileged User Account
Full administrative privileges are usually granted to an administrative user account. To reduce chances of malware damage, it is best practice to use a standard account for most of your daily stuff. Use admin account in case of any urgent or emergency task. For example, you can use the administrator account to install software and make any changes to software, otherwise you can use the standard account to do activities like data processing, playing multimedia content, browsing and gaming among others. In organizations, third party access to admin panel can cause of data loss, malware injection.
8. Keep Your Software Up to Date
Software updates can at times fix bugs in previous versions means it can fix or improve security flaws in software. With computer security, a small flaw can blow up your PC system; therefore keeping your software up to date is something you should look to do always. Attackers always take advantage of outdated software and can bypass the security parameters. Always turn on auto updates on the software; it will free you from remembering software update. You can use some reputable tools to keep track of your entire software collection, and they will alert you whenever there is a genuine update.
9. Back up What you Consider Important
Prevention has always been better than cure. Well, if you are that type of person who keeps many eggs in a single basket, then it is high time you know that you could end up breaking all your eggs! Back to the computer world and the best way to avoid such disaster is to back up your files on another storage device or you can simply configure your System for auto backup of your files. You should at least make sure that the backup works and is recoverable with ease just to tighten the loose ends.
10. Shut down computers after finishing the task
If a user is operating PC at home or office, it is advisable to shut down the computer after completing the task. If the computer is not shut down, someone in the absence of a user can damage files, retrieve personal information, or use PC to carry out malicious actions. To avoid misuse of your computer, a user can even lock your computer if the task is not completed yet. However, remember when you lock out a PC, keep a strong or complex password.
11. Full disk encryption
In recent times, many OS offers full disk encryption (FDE) that makes your data unreadable by any third person. It automatically converts data in encrypted form. If the OS does not support this feature, then there are drivers available in the market to enable full disk encryption. Even if the hard drive removed by someone, he/she cannot interpret the data. Usually, laptop and small computer devices, which can be easily stolen, should have full disk encryption.
12. Uninstall Fishy Software
The rule of the thumb is to follow a credible software tool in a PC. It is important to keep an eye on the applications installed on your computer just in case you note some fishy tools installed. Software flaws can serve as a route for attacks, and it can cause big risk when you have flawed software tools in your computer. Do not hesitate in removing malicious software from your computer. It is good to avoid fake software available on websites that redirect to a fake website. It may be a sign of installing malware on your PC. Do not install cracked software easily available online as such software may have created for bad intention or have malware or virus.
13. Use Firewalls
Firewalls are hardware or software implementation that controls incoming web traffic between your computer and your connections. The beauty is that they can easily be configured in most modern operating systems. To configure firewalls in the window OS is very easy because all the settings are done from the control panel. Firewalls can also be configured in the routers, meaning that you double the layer of the security even further. To configure a firewall in a router correctly, it is advisable to use a user guide as the process setting may vary from vendor to vendor.
In the cyber world, Hacking has compelled us to think over the computer and online security. Many security experts, media platforms, and organizations have been trying to bring awareness among users to prevent from cyber crime and hacking. The above steps will ideally secure your computer from entering any nefarious activities and offers a secure and pleasant experience on your PC because it is never too late for a good cause.