Is Your Computer Safe?

Your computer is usually connected to the Internet. Are you safe? Did you check the security of your computer lately?

When you are on the Internet, cyber thieves are constantly attacking your computer, trying to break in and steal your data.

These attacks are automated. Cyber criminals are not sitting behind a computer, waiting for you to get online. Their software automatically attacks every device that is connected to the Internet.

If you connect a computer that you have not secured to the network, it will be broken into in a few minutes.

You should not have to worry about that. Computer is a tool that helps you be more productive. Computers can also be fun.

Check the security of your computer from time to time. It is not hard, and you will have a peace of mind knowing that you are doing what you can to protect your personal information and data.

Check Your Computer Security

Let's start with the basics.

Do you have any security software installed on your computer that keeps it protected? Are your passwords strong and secure? Are you backing up your personal information and data?

You should always be running the latest version of the computer security software - like antivirus and anti-malware - on your computer. Some software updates itself automatically, and some requires you to update it yourself.

Even when the software updates are automated, the automation can stop working. Computers are complex and fragile, and as you probably know very well, they do not always work the way they should.

It is a good security practice to every once in a while check that the security software installed on your computer is still updating itself, and that it is running the latest version available.

You should check the security of your computer at least once per month.

Of course, this assumes you already have the basic computer security software installed.

Here is a quick overview of basic software security tools you should have on your computer.

AntiVirus Protection

Antivirus software is an important component of the layered computer security strategy that we use throughout this website.

When you cross the street at the crosswalk, you look left and right as you cross. You know you have a green light, and it should be safe to cross. But you look anyway.

Why?

Because you never know, there may be a car coming. Things happen, why take the chance?

The same good sense applies to having an antivirus software on your computer.

There are still computer viruses being written. There are also old viruses still around, some of which can cause a lot of damage to your computer.

Why take the risk?

Antivirus software constantly looks for computer viruses and catches them as soon as they enter your computer.

It also protects you from non-Internet security threats.

You probably use USB sticks and external USB drives. What if you connect a USB stick that has been infected with a virus?

Your computer will get infected as well.

The USB stick may have come from a trusted source like a family member, friend or colleague. Maybe they do not have antivirus software on their computer, and did not even realize it became infected.

Or maybe you picked one up at the vendor booth at your last conference.

It does not matter where you got it from. The point is that you can’t control these circumstances, and there is no way for you to know if something you plug into your computer has been infected with a virus.

Let the antivirus software worry about this. Protecting your computer from viruses is what it does best.

Antivirus Protection: What To Check

To check your computer security antivirus software, make sure it:

  • Is running in real-time scanning mode
  • Has not expired (check the software license)
  • Has the latest software version of itself running
  • Has the latest database of viruses installed

Anti-Malware Protection

Although viruses can technically be classified as malware, neither antivirus nor anti-malware software is sophisticated enough to protect your computer from both types of threats.

Malware is malicious software that is hostile to your computer. It includes worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, scareware and other malicious programs.

Malware is often used by professional cyber attackers including individuals, governments and organized crime organizations. They use it to steal personal, financial or business information from your computer.

You should have reliable anti-malware software installed on your computer. It should be able to detect malicious software in real-time, and auto-update itself as needed.

Anti-Malware Protection: What To Check

To check your computer security anti-malware software, make sure it:

  • Is running in real-time scanning mode
  • Has not expired (check the software license)
  • Has the latest software version of itself running
  • Has the latest database of malware installed

Password Manager

Passwords are the primary method of protecting the technology services we use. In many cases, there is no other safety mechanism safeguarding our personal information and data.

You may find yourself in a situation where:

  • You cannot remember all your passwords
  • You use easy-to-remember but weak, insecure passwords
  • You use the same password for more than one online website or service

Of course, you are human and cannot remember good and secure passwords because they are difficult to remember - on purpose! That is exactly what makes them secure.

The good news is, you do not have to remember them. There is a software tool called a password manager. It keeps your passwords in a safe place, and remembers them for you.

With a password manager you can generate very secure passwords without having to remember them. It will even auto-fill the username and password in a web browser for you!

Password Manager: What To Check

To check your computer security password manager software, make sure it:

  • Has not expired (check the software license)
  • Has the latest software version of itself running
  • Has all your passwords stored

Backups

A backup is a copy of your personal information and data that is located somewhere else.

Having good backups goes beyond good computer security practice. It protects you against every other risk, virtual and physical, that you are exposed to.

Computers can not only get broken into, they sometime die. When your computer dies, it may take your data with it.

In some cases you may be able to get your data back by paying a lot of money to a data recovery service company. Still, this is a risk, and if your data is important to you then you do not want to take that risk.

There are also natural disasters. Your computer can get damaged, or destroyed. The only way to get your data back is from a good and functional data backup.

There are a couple of strategies to consider. One is to copy your data once in a while to an external USB hard drive, and give it to someone else. Of course, you should encrypt it.

Another strategy is to use a cloud service. Again, your data should be encrypted.

There is no substitute for backup. When all else fails, you will only be able to recover your data if you have backed it up.

Backups: What To Check

To check your computer security backups, make sure:

  • Your data is still being backed up
  • You can restore your data (do a small restore of a piece of your data)
  • There is enough disk space, or cloud space, for future backups
  • The software license has not expired

Computer Security Takeaways

Cyber thieves are attacking all computers connected to the Internet.

If your computer is not secure, it will be broken into.

For basic computer security, you need:

  • Antvirus Protection
  • Anti-Malware Protection
  • Password Manager
  • Good and Functional Backups

You should check your computer security from time to time, to make sure your personal information and data is still protected and safe.

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