Your computer is your gateway to the world of information. Unfortunately, it’s also the portal to your personal information. From online hackers trying to steal your financial information to power surges that can fry your hard drive, your computer is more vulnerable than you think. So how does the everyday user safeguard their information and digital data? Follow these tips to protect your computer at all times, whether you’re on or offline.
Beef Up Security
Whether you use your computer to store sensitive financial information or your summer vacation photos, security should be your first priority. Make sure you have the following items in place:
Two-way Firewall: A firewall protects your computer from hackers who may try to access your information remotely. A one way firewall comes activated with your operating system; however, that’s not enough! One-way protection does not stop malware from “phoning home” your information to criminals or from sending bot-net attacks. Make sure you protect your computer with an “after-market” two-way firewall that runs automatically without interfering with your work. You can find them in top tier premium security suites or just add ZoneAlarm Free Firewall, the world’s #1 firewall, to your current antivirus protection. Download at zonealarm.com/freefirewall.
Antivirus Software: Your computer is always vulnerable to Internet attacks. The best way to protect it is to install antivirus software which detects and removes malware that is infecting your computer. Be sure that your software updates and scans automatically and that its “on access”feature is turned on to scan every process that runs. Free options available here: http://download.cnet.com/windows/antivirus-software
AntiSpyware: In addition to viruses and worms, others can secretly view your activity computer through installed spyware. This software blocks anyone who attempts to monitor your activity. This is generally included in antivirus products but more advanced antispyware defenses are available in separate products and top security suites.
You can get many of these security programs free, but it’s best to purchase or download programs from reputable companies, as some free programs can actually have malware embedded.
Premium Security Suites: Consider premium security suites. They provide additional layers of protection that can stop attacks that might otherwise get through. Some premium suites, like ZoneAlarm Extreme Security, also provide further bonuses like online backup and PC Tune-Up.
Quick tip: Most operating systems come with an option to limit user access, such as the built-in “guest” account. Such accounts have limited access to your computer, so that the user using that account can’t intentionally or unintentionally damage your data. If you change your account type to have the same access as the guest account, even if your computer is infected with a virus, the damage it can do is limited.
Don’t Leave an Online Trail
During an average Internet session, most people end up with several browser windows and tabs open, and logged into various accounts, such as Facebook and email. Ending a session without logging out of these sites puts you at risk of having your information stolen. Remember to always log out of all accounts (each of which should have a different username and password http://www.zonealarm.com/blog/2011/08/password-protection.html).
Also clean out temporary Internet files – that’s where a lot of malware surreptitiously hides. Be mindful of what you download while browsing online, too. Viruses may be included in email attachments and “free” programs can also have malware installed.
Always Back Up
This is one of the most important things for computer users to do, and yet many ignore this. Remember: You can lose information a number of ways. Not only can your computer become infected, but a power surge can fry your hard drive, making it virtually impossible to recover. To avoid this and have peace of mind, invest in a backup drive or back up your information online.
All of your programs are constantly being updated: The newest versions help things run smoother, and the latest security signatures and patches offer the latest protection. But none of these updatess will help if you don’t implement them. Remember to update your operating system and other security programs regularly.
In addition to updating, turn your computer off when you’re done using it. Many users get in the habit of keeping computer on or letting it go to sleep. However, in the world of high-speed Internet connections, this keeps your computer vulnerable to attack. Give your computer the much-needed break it deserves.
Make it Easy For Yourself
Novice users may be overwhelmed by the many safeguards required to secure a computer, but this doesn’t need to be the case. You can get all these safeguards in one easy to install and manage bundle. Products like ZoneAlarm Extreme Security, which offers firewall, antivirus, antispyware, keylogging protection, online backup, and more, automatically take care of everything for you, giving you peace of mind – and more time to enjoy those online cat videos.