Top 10 safe computing tips
- Patch, Patch, PATCH!
Set up your computer for automatic software and operating system updates. An unpatched machine is more likely to have software vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
- Install protective software.
There are several antivirus programs available as a free download for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. When installed, the software should be set to scan your files and update your virus definitions on a regular basis.
- Choose strong passwords.
Choose strong passwords with letters, numbers, and special characters to create a mental image or an acronym that is easy for you to remember. Create a different password for each important account, and change passwords regularly.
- Backup, Backup, BACKUP!
Backing up your machine regularly can protect you from the unexpected. Keep a few months' worth of backups and make sure the files can be retrieved if needed.
- Control access to your machine.
Don't leave your computer in an unsecured area, or unattended and logged on, especially in public places. The physical security of your machine is just as important as its technical security.
- Use email and the Internet safely.
Ignore unsolicited emails, and be wary of attachments, links and forms in emails that come from people you don't know, or which seem "phishy." Avoid untrustworthy (often free) downloads from freeware or shareware sites.
- Use secure connections.
When connected to the Internet, your data can be vulnerable while in transit. When possible use https:// for webpages
- Protect sensitive data.
Reduce the risk of identity theft. Securely remove sensitive data files from your hard drive, which is also recommended when recycling or repurposing your computer. Use the encryption tools built into your operating system to protect sensitive files you need to retain.
- Use desktop firewalls.
Macintosh and Windows computers have basic desktop firewalls as part of their operating systems. When set up properly, these firewalls protect your computer files from being scanned.
- Most importantly, stay informed.
Stay current with the latest developments for Windows, Macintosh Linux, and Unix systems.