These days we all live online. We use the internet to communicate, research, pay bills and collect payments, play games, shop, you name it. A preventable event taking down your computer can leave you dejected at home and decrease productivity at work. Here are a few simple tips to make your experience on the internet as safe and secure as possible.
Be leery of public WiFi connections. It is extremely kind of Starbucks and the like to afford us the opportunity to stay connected on the go, but understand that these connections are open for everyone. A nefarious individual using software called a packet sniffer can see everything you are doing online. Feel free to update your status, make your move, or send a message to a friend or coworker. But unless you have an encrypted connection to the office, wait till you get home to do your online banking or email that private client data!
Keep your computer (and browser) up to date. Ensure that you are installing all security updates provided by Microsoft for your operating system and your web browser. These updates are provided by the developers to address previously identified vulnerabilities. So take advantage of their hard work by making sure you have your system configured for automatic updates, or at least apply them as soon as they are available. If you are using a browser not supplied by Microsoft like Chrome or Mozilla, make sure you are updating them as well. Security breaches found in web browsers have been one of the main targets for hackers in the past!
Use antiexploit and antivirus programs. Don’t prowl unprotected! Windows Defender is a great option that is included with the Windows operating system. It was initially released as antispyware, but in Windows 8 and later versions it is a full antivirus and antispyware application. As a bonus, it also updates automatically with your Windows operating system updates. Be sure your IT department or outsourced IT provider has the programs deployed to all devices that access the internet.
Never click a link you didn’t expect to receive. There are endless ways for the bad guys to get into your computer, but the easiest is for you to invite them in. If you receive an email with a link that looks questionable – asking for account information, offering you an outstanding offer, giving you money or gifts – don’t open it until you verify with the sender that it is legitimate. Verify the sender’s address or make a phone call prior to moving forward.
Lock down your social media accounts. Most social media accounts now use secure communication for access, but there are other things to consider here as well. Don’t share passwords across accounts, change your passwords regularly, and never use your email password for any social media sites. Also, never put information in public social media posts that could be used to identify you. Don’t become the next Pippa Middleton or Jennifer Lawrence…keep your private information private!