Stop procrastinating! You probably have thought about ways to enhance your computer Internet security but have kept putting it off for one reason or another. Time to get serious and take some affirmative action. These 6 steps are just what you need to get started.
Step 1: Identify Potential Threats
To create an effective plan of action, you must identify potential threats. This includes not only ways that your confidential information on your computer could be accessed illegally without your knowledge, but also where the threats may come from. Generally, we think of the nameless hackers lurking in cyberspace just waiting for the opportunity to invade our computers and create havoc. While this may be the most common danger, there are also more intimate people around you such as casual friends, business associates, friends of friends, or even associates of family members, who, if given a chance, could gain access to your computer and obtain some confidential information such as bank account numbers, credit card information, and other private data. The point here is that you should take steps to ensure computer security from potential threats both within your sphere of influence and beyond.
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Step 2: Computer Lock Down
One of the easiest steps and the most overlooked by most users is simply locking the computer when not in use. Whether using your computer at home or even your business computer at work, you should never leave your computer running unattended for any length of time without having some locking system in place. Most computer operating systems such as Windows have this feature enabled when you first start your computer. However, users often leave their computer running unattended, which means anyone can sit down and access it. Therefore it is important to have another security layer to protect your confidential files when your computer system is actually running. This means having a good password to lock your computer from unauthorized access, along with different passwords to protect files you want to keep private. Use a combination of letters and numbers, both upper and lower case letters, for the best protection. Never use common everyday items like birthdays, kids or pet names, telephone numbers, etc., as these are just too risky if the computer hacker knows you personally.
Step 3: Disconnect
No computer Internet security software or firewall system can be considered 100% safe under all circumstances, day after day. With new forms of malware such as viruses being invented every day, there is always a chance, perhaps very slim, that your current computer security could be breached. There is a 100% solution to online threats that is rarely considered by most computer users, which are actually free and very easy to do. Disconnect your Internet connection from your modem when not using your computer. This physical break in the Internet path into your computer will solve any online threat that currently exists.
Step 4: Onboard Security
It is amazing how many computer users today still ignore the need for good quality computer protection in well-respected computer Internet security software. They are either totally naive and believe the myth “it will never happen to me,” or they run on the cheap and figure that the basic malware and spyware protection and the firewall provided with their operating system are good enough. Others will take things one step further and download some free PC internet security software, thinking that this is as good as the paid version. Hello? There is a reason why it is free! You generally get what you pay, or do not pay for, in computer Internet security. This is not to say that your operating system’s basic security settings and some e-mail programs, web browsers, and applications should be ignored! These should be activated to add yet another level of protection for your computer against outside threats.
Step 5: Prepare for the Unexpected
With all the concern about hackers breaking into your computer, physically or online, people often overlook the less sensational dangers to their computer system, such as power surges or spikes and hardware malfunction. Any of these can destroy or corrupt important files and even make your onboard security useless. Therefore it is wise to use a good quality power surge protector that will guard against unexpected spikes in electricity, which could fry your computer components and damage your hard drive containing your data files. If you are really concerned about these kinds of dangers, there are battery system backups that you can use that will automatically protect against power surges and power outages and allow you to save data and shut down your computer normally to avoid corrupting any files.
Step 6: Backup Important Data
Anyone familiar with computers generally knows or has heard at least one story of someone who lost everything in an instant when their computer’s hard drive suddenly and without warning… CRASHED! If you do not regularly backup important data files containing confidential personal information or even information that has sentimental value to you and your family, then it is like playing a game of “Russian Roulette.” It is only a matter of time until this happens as computer hard drives are not built to last forever.
Sometimes a good computer techie can still access a failed hard drive, save the contents to a different hard drive, and sometimes not. Can you afford to take this chance? External hard drives or “zip drives” are very affordable these days and can hold huge amounts of information, in most cases the entire contents of your hard drive, and offer an easy solution as well as “peace of mind” knowing that you have your important data saved in another place should your hard drive fail. Just remember to backup regularly! Depending upon our data’s value and how often changes are made to it, you may need to backup monthly, weekly, or even daily.