You don't need to be a techie to keep your computer safe from threats and protect your personal information. Many of the ways to protect your computer are simple things that you can do without having to invest in any extra security programs.
The following are a few simple ways to protect your computer that anyone can implement.
1. Update Your Software
It may sound like an obvious thing to state but you will be surprised how many people fail to do this one simple thing to protect their computer.
The makers of operating system software like Windows, OSX and Linux regularly release updates that patch security loopholes that they have uncovered through user feedback or from their own research.
So, next time you see that update notification pop-up on your computer, don't ignore it.
The same goes for any software programs you have installed on your computer. If you get a notification of a pending update, update immediately.
Also, avoid using outdated software versions. Update to the latest stable version released by the software maker.
If you have antivirus software installed, set it to check for updates daily and update itself automatically.
2. Secure Your Identity Online
Have you watched the movie Identity Theft?
In the movie, Diana played by Melissa McCarthy lives a luxurious lifestyle courtesy of stolen credit cards and bank information that she steals from Sandy Patterson played by Jason Bateman.
Many people in the real world can relate to the events depicted in Identity Theft. There are people out there with horror stories to tell of how some online kook hacked their email or bank account and took them to the cleaners before they knew what was happening.
Don't be caught in such a situation.
DO NOT give you bank or credit card login username and password to anyone over the phone or via email. Even if that person calls you and claims they work for the bank. Banks officials will never call and ask a customer for their login and password information.
Also, use a complex password for all sites you log into. A proper password should consist of upper case letters, lower case letters, special characters and numbers, and, should be at least eight characters long.
3. Who Sent That Email?
When you receive an email with an attachment, don't open the attachment unless you are sure you know the person who sent the email. And, you are actually expecting the email and their account hasn't been hacked.
Sending viruses and malware via attachments to unsuspecting recipients is one of the oldest tricks in the book used to gain access to computers.
Any zipped attachment or HTML file from someone you don't know is a dead giveaway that some kook on the other end of the email is up to no good having that attached file scanned by an antivirus is always a good practice to keep your computer on the safe-side.
4. Avoid Dodgy Software Downloads
So you have searched for hours for a piece of free software to accomplish a certain task and you finally find one. But, the moment you download and install it, all hell breaks loose. Your computer starts acting up, for example, ads start popping up frequently or in a worst case scenario, the software comes loaded with a silent key logger that records all your login keystrokes at sites and sends it to a remote hacker.
To avoid this, only download free software from trusted sites. For Windows users, sites like Sourceforge and Cnet are trusted. Linux users should only download from trusted repositories like Ubuntu's Software Center.
5. Don't Trust Social Media
Viruses and malware can find their way into you computer via social media sites like Facebook. Often, people don't think twice when clicking links in their timeline especially if the story sounds juicy, for example, “Mermaids seen swimming off the coast of Corsica!” If you click on such a link, you are just asking for trouble. In the recent past, malware attacks have been launched using Facebook. A few examples include the Zeus, Koob and “Lol” viruses which all used Facebook as a gateway into unsuspecting users computers. To protect yourself, don't click on fishy links. They will usually have a very interesting but almost improbable story as the headline, such as the mermaid example above. Also, don't click on links in chat messages especially from people you don't know.
Finally, you must be ever vigilant. A bit of healthy paranoia is actually a good thing. Most of the threats to your computer require you to be careless in some way and having an antivirus software is just one of the threads in your safety net. If you follow these simple rules you will have mitigated 99 percent of the risk to your computer.