7 Useful Computer Security Tips from an Expert

 Dave
  Apr 03, 2018

I’ve been the owner of a computer repair shop for over eight years, and I have to tell you, I pretty much get security questions on a daily basis. As the prevalence of technology in our lives has increased over the years, it’s only natural that computer-related security issues have risen as well. Anyone who has suffered the nightmare of dealing with identity theft will certainly be able to tell you about the importance of security on your computer.

Cyber attacks are becoming increasingly common, and even large corporations like Equifax have had some serious damage done to their reputation after being compromised. Let’s face it, there are some nasty people out there that are intelligent enough to steal your information online. The least we can do is make it difficult for them.

We take a variety of safety precautions throughout our everyday lives, and our computers should be no different.

I’ve prepared seven expert computer security tips below to help give you the upper hand against potential hackers and cyber-thieves:

Protect Yourself

You know those seemingly endless software update pop-ups that seem to come up every week on your computer? The notifications that you have been clicking “remind me later” on for several weeks? Well, if you don’t have the latest updates to your anti-virus and the rest of your software, you’re definitely not protected enough.

You’re making yourself vulnerable to a lot of trouble if someone tries to get into your computer. One of the reasons those programs are constantly being updated is so they can stay ahead of the bad guys and if you aren’t keeping up with those updates, you’re definitely not doing yourself any favors.

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: Lookout for Fake Fixers

There is a clever new breed of criminal operating in the tech world and they’re disguised as the people trying to help you. These people will call senior citizens and tell them that they have computer problems or that they’ve been hacked. They are preying on people that are less than tech-savvy and telling them that if they allow remote access the problem will be cleared up right away. It’s like someone dressed as a police officer saying, “You wait here. Give me the keys to your house and I’ll make sure everything is okay.”

If they’re actually right and you really don’t know what you’re doing, you would probably even feel grateful at first - until the effects of what they’ve done start to hit you.

Once they are given complete remote access to your computer, the keys to the kingdom have been delivered. They will steal everything they can, including credit card numbers, personal data, and financial information. Please make sure you’re not buying services from anyone that you haven’t had a chance to talk to on your own and investigate thoroughly. Don’t be rushed into anything and if it doesn’t feel right, just say no.

It’s usually best to deal with a local computer repair shop. If you’re dealing with someone in person, in a store that claims to be able to do pretty much anything with computers, check their qualifications or seek out any online reviews of the shop to establish credibility.

Be Careful What You Download

Any time you download something, whether it’s a picture, a video, an email, or a song, you are potentially opening up a can of worms. Many times there are harmful files embedded in what you are trying to download that can make your computer susceptible to thieves.

Even if you like the idea of giving your business to smaller companies rather than the big boys who are well known and trusted, if you download from a source you don’t know, it’s asking for trouble. If you aren’t careful with your downloads, you might find yourself with a crippled computer while someone siphons money directly from your bank accounts.

Links are Not Necessary

Anytime you see a link embedded in an article or webpage, it’s very tempting just to click it and have a look. It’s shiny, blue, and intriguing. Unfortunately, that’s another way you can let the bad guys in. A link can potentially contain malware, spyware, all sorts of security compromising things that you don’t want roaming around your computer.

The next time you see a link you want to click, don’t automatically open it. If you can live without it, do so. Even if it seems to be a credible source such as your bank, there’s a chance it’s not legitimate. These cyber-thieves are getting better every day. It’s a full-time job for them. There are extremely talented graphic artists out there that can use their talents to make convincing replicas of genuine websites.

This scheme is called phishing: they’re dangling some bait in the form of something you want, but they are really after details about you before you get it. If you bite, there is a hook in there that can grab the information you give.

Act as Your Own Security Guard

Even if you have the most up-to-date and sophisticated security on your computer, it all means nothing if your actions are making your computer susceptible to security breaches. The only way to keep your computer 100% guaranteed safe is to never switch it on, but then what’s the point of having it? So it’s your responsibility to be vigilant. Keep up with all of the new computer security trends. Make sure your software is consistently updated. Don’t share your passwords with anyone - and that means anyone.

Easy is Risky

It’s definitely nice to have all of your passwords saved so you don’t have to remember every specific variation of your login information to enter websites. However, if you are thinking about computer security, difficult is good. Don’t use the same password for every website, and don’t use a basic password. It’s human nature to make things easy for ourselves, and therefore we all have the same obvious thoughts about things like passwords. Take the time to make a complex password.

You know the drill: mix capitals with lowercase and throw in a few numbers. Made-up words are impossible to guess but real words are far too easy for hackers to figure out. Saving your password is not recommended. There are ways of finding out the saved passwords on your computer, and if you can do it, so can everyone else.

Unless you have some brilliant system that only you can understand, it’s going to be hard to remember all of the passwords you create. Make a note of them somewhere - maybe on your phone or even in an old-fashioned notebook. But disguise it: don’t have something written somewhere that says “This contains the password to my precious bank account”.

Neurolysis your Device When You Leave

The Men in Black movies featured a very cool device called a “neuralyzer”. If they wanted people to forget what they had just seen, they pointed them towards a little device they held up, and it completely wiped their memory of the event.

When you pass your computer on to someone else because you’ve got a new one, the only way to make sure no one can dig up previous information it is to restore it to factory settings. Don’t just delete everything: there are plenty of people who know how to retrieve deleted files. I suggest the factory reset because, after that, it’s as if you never even touched the computer.

So there you have it. My top seven tips on computer security. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll save yourself countless headaches and money spent on repairing your computer. If you have any computer security tips of your own or questions, feel free to leave them as comments below. Thanks for reading!

7 Useful Computer Security Tips from an Expert

Dave

I’m Dave, owner of a New Jersey based computer repair shop with thousands of clients. With over 8 years in the tech industry I avidly blog about all things computers, gadgets and gizmos.

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