How comfortable do you feel doing your online banking on your computer? How about checking your investments? Are you sure your data is safe from hackers and viruses? Every day, new malware, crimeware and viruses are released on the internet, and you need to make sure that you’re protected. Here are some simple ways to help keep your computer safe.
Hackers use a tool known as a cracker that relies on a database of word and letter combinations to try and brute force password authentication. While it doesn’t work against encrypted passwords very well, simple one word passwords that don’t follow security recommendations are easy hunting.
The easiest tactic to keep your computer protected is to have a strong password. Almost 20 percent of passwords are “123456,” which continues to show that the weakest link in computer security is the human at the keyboard. At the bare minimum, your password should be at least eight characters long, have a combination of upper and lowercase letters, and include a number and special symbol. This is the minimum you want to use. A better option is a passphrase, something that has a number of words in it that only mean something to you. Combine this passphrase with some special characters and numbers and you have a greater chance of not having your passwords compromised by brute force hacking tools.
Patching, Patching, Patching
Another critical, yet simple way to protect your computer is to keep your operating system and software patched and up to date. Windows Update is setup, or can be setup to automatically download and install on a scheduled basis. If you are choosing which patches to install, remember that critical patches are the most important. These patches address exploits in the operating systems that can have a serious effect on your system. The goal of many cybercriminals is to enslave your computer to act like a zombie machine that they can use to attack other servers, and these patches will plug those holes.
Third-party software is a little harder to maintain. Programs like Java, QuickTime and others all utilize web services for their access and platform. And just like Windows, they regularly require patching. Java is good in the sense that it will tell you when it needs to be updated and offers a one-click install. Other software programs aren’t as forthcoming, so you want to regularly check your software for updates. You can usually do this by selecting help, since most programs include the option to check for updates in this menu.
It used to be that you could install an antivirus program and not worry. However, the threat landscape has changed, which means antivirus is no longer enough. In addition to viruses, there are malware infections, spyware, ransomware, trojans and new threats cropping up everyday. True endpoint protection offers real-time protection of your system, your web browser, your email and your data. Endpoint protection includes antivirus, anti-malware, real-time threat analysis and zero day protection. Some also include backup and recovery solutions. Whatever you choose, a simple antivirus is no longer enough.
The internet is vast, which means that security threats will only continue to evolve. If you use these three simple strategies, you will be much better positioned to protect yourself from whatever comes your way.