As important as it is to be password-savvy and always vigilant when working, searching and shopping online, there are tools you can use to protect your computer and other devices from malware, ransomware, etc.Hack #4: Beef-up Your Cyber Defenses
Just as you protect your home from intruders by installing and using secure locks on your doors and windows, you can similarly protect connected devices. Email and the internet are the two primary sources of malware infections in computers. Therefore, the safest cyber best practices include using tools that work continuously and automatically behind the scenes. All of these tools and tips will help you fend off potential attacks:
- Set the security controls for your browser to the highest levels. Are you using the latest plug-in versions? If not, you’re more vulnerable to malware delivered via extensions, infected pop-ups or plug-ins.
- Make sure your computer has a firewall and that it is also configured to the maximum settings. It should have a strong password, too.
- If you’re using a PC, run Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer to scan your system for missing service packs, security updates and so on. The tool is free.
- Install an inclusive, top-rated anti-virus software, and make sure it is regularly updated. If you’ve been using a Kaspersky product, it’s probably best to remove it and switch to something else. Perhaps the Russian company is not involved in any malicious data-gathering activities, as has been rumored, but Best Buy has stopped selling their products, US federal agencies are now forbidden to use Kaspersky products, and more and more private enterprises have stopped using them, too.
- Cover the webcam on your computer, because hackers can use it to spy on you and capture information. A piece of painter’s tape works great, as it’s easy to remove without leaving residue.
- Don’t use removable media devices such as thumb drives to transfer files. A lot of people don’t realize how risky these little devices can be. In fact, one study revealed that 20% of people were willing to pick up a device they found in a public place and plug it into their computer. Never use a portable device that’s been out of your control, because they can easily transport malware along with files, deliberately or inadvertently.
- Remember that it’s not only computers and mobile devices you need to worry about – it’s anything that uses Wi-Fi. That includes your Wi-Fi router, Fitbit, Amazon Echo and other “smart home” devices. It also includes your printer – an intrusion point that’s growing in popularity with hackers. Everything needs the best possible privacy and security settings.
- Before you purchase any connectable device, find out what kind of built-in protections it has or how you will be able to keep it safe.
Using all the safeguards available to you is a simple hack that will help you be a safer cyber citizen. Want to know more? Watch for our next hack tip.