While computers make our work easier, they can tell others a lot about its users. They could include colleagues, friends who share the computer and even hackers. Whether online or offline, computers can give away information to others. This article intends to offer some safe computing tips for all – especially the seniors and the new-to-computing crowd.
Safe Computing Tips
1 Use an effective antivirus
It is very easy to get infected if you do not have a good antivirus or an Internet Security Suite on your Windows computer, especially if you visit the Internet. To stay safe, use an antivirus that provides you protection against malicious code. There are many antivirus around. Some of them are free and some are paid. Whatever you choose, make sure it works properly.
An antivirus should offer protection not only against virus but also from other forms of malware such as adware, spyware etc.
Most antivirus programs claim to provide all round protection. But remember that there is nothing called 100% protection when it comes to the Internet. That is why you need a second line of defense as well. In addition to a real-time antivirus, keep running scheduled scans of your anti-malware, and use an online antivirus scanners or a second-opinion scanner occasionally.
2. Use a good Firewall
As well as an antivirus protects your computer from virus, you need protection from hackers. You have to use a proper firewall for the purpose. A firewall is a hardware or software that makes your computer disappear from the Internet. It would be like working from behind an invisible wall that secures your computer.
If you are using Windows 7 or 8, the firewall in the operating system is good enough. Please read our article on how to configure Windows Firewall in Windows. If you want, you can use a third party firewall. Not everyone is comfortable with Windows built in firewall. There are both free and paid firewalls available on the Internet. Check out our list of best free firewalls on The Windows Club.
If you use a normal router, I would recommend you to turn on the firewall inside the router also. Almost all routers come with a hardware or firmware firewall. You can turn it on by logging into the configuration page of the router. The address of login page of most routers is 192.168.1.1. Before making changes, you may want to back up existing settings in case you wish to change other settings too, such as DNS etc.
A good DNS will protect you against malicious websites. There are many DNS that are both fast and provide protection as well. You can use Comodo DNS or any other DNS that you prefer.
3. Clean History Regularly
A browser can give away information about what sites you are visiting and can be a serious threat to your privacy. To prevent getting caught or to avoid others from knowing what you were doing on the browser or the Internet, remember to clean history after you are done with the browsing. There are options to clean history, cache and cookies in every browser you use. Some browsers like TOR etc do not store any information locally. You can use them if you are very serious about your privacy. Browsers like TOR would not let even the websites guess where you are located.
Alternatively, you can use a third party computer junk cleaner to clear the history, cookies, cache, temporary files and registry. Using a third party cleaner would ensure that history is erased from all browsers you have on the machine you used.
4. Keep your Windows operating system and installed software updated
An operating system should always be up to date with patches and updates so that it is completely protected. Developers of Windows identify issues time to time and issue patches every second Tuesday of month. You should install those updates. To make sure you do not miss out on updates, it is better to Turn on Windows Updates and choose the option to update automatically. You can set these properties using the Windows Updates option in Control Panel in Windows operating system. There are also several third-party software update checker programs available that keep on checking for updated versions of the software installed on your computer.
5. Stay safe while browsing
To stay safe while browsing, it is always better to use a Virtual Private Network. This creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN’s central point from where you get to browse the Internet. There are both free and paid VPNs. You can use Spotflux, for example. There are many VPNs available. Check out some of the best free VPN software available on the Internet. Learn how to Stay Safe Online & protect personal information while browsing.
6. Do not fall for Phishing attempts
Always know what you are doing when on the computer. There are many out there who want to use you or your information for personal gains. They will try to contact you via emails, forms on websites and other modes of communication. They will ask you for your information in lieu of something lucrative. Do not fall for scams. If you get an email saying you won a lottery, and you know that you do not buy any lottery, it is better to ignore such mails. Phishing emails and attacks are main sources for stealing information that is later used for identity theft. Learn how to identify phishing.
7. Know about Social Engineering
Sometimes people posing as friends try to fish out information from you – regarding you or about your organization. If someone is becoming too friendly and interested in information you shouldn’t share, beware. It could be a social engineering attack. People befriend you to obtain information that they sell to others or use themselves. In most cases, it is organizational information that they are interested in. They may ask you favors to look into databases and provide them with information. They may be on social networks or even in person. Stay away from such people.
8. Lock the computer when not using it
One of the best safe computing habits to cultivate is to lock the screen of computer with a password when you are not at it. It hardly takes a moment. You just have to press WinKey+L to lock the computer. This prevents others from snooping into your computers when you are not around.
9. Be aware while clicking on shortened links
Social sites have promoted short links. These short links are not often safe. If anyone sends you a link without any context or if the link is send by untrusted sources, do not click on it. You may also use third party services to know where a link leads to – before you click it. One such Short URL Expander service is wheredoesthislinkgo.com.
10. Use Social sites safely
Social sites are fun… and risky. Though they are meant to share information, share only as much as is necessary. Oversharing can lead to burglary, identity thefts, negative promotions etc. Keep your mind in control while having fun on such sites. Use decent language. Try to avoid social sites when emotional so that you do not post anything that may make you regret later. Remember that people lookup for you on social sites when they need information about you. So you should be careful how you project yourself there.