As we become more and more dependent on modern technology for our livelihoods and entertainment, hackers, cyber thieves and other evil doers are getting more sophisticated in their attempts to cause computer glitches and other problems.
The Department of Homeland Security recommends a few simple measures to protect our identity, finances, and privacy. Also at stake are national security, the country’s economy and critical resources that allow this nation and others to function smoothly.
These tips may help to keep out intruders:
- Use a firewall to thwart hackers who want to gain access to your computer. The software comes with many machines or can be purchased separately. Keep it turned on.
- Make sure you have up-to-date antivirus software, which can keep harmful software programs from invading your computer. Most antivirus programs can update automatically.
- Make use of anti-spyware technology. Spyware that penetrates your defenses lets unauthorized parties monitor your computer activities. Some Internet ads offering downloadable anti-spyware may be fakes and actually contain spyware. It’s best to buy from a store or someone you trust.
- Have a recent operating system. The newer versions are support by the manufacturer with updates that plug security holes. Be sure to install the latest updates.
- Be wary of downloads. Unknown e-mail attachments can lead to trouble, especially if they are designed to defeat protective software. It’s best to avoid an attachment sent from someone you don’t know, and to think twice about opening forwarded attachments from people you do know.
- Shut down the computer. Leaving your machine at the ready is convenient but it may leave it more susceptible to attack. Shutting down severs an attacker’s connection.
- Use effective passwords. Steer clear of the same one or two passwords for everything. Choose passwords of at least eight characters that include numbers, symbols, and capital letters.
Avoid putting personal information on social media sites, especially photographs. Assume everything you post will go public. Privacy settings can help limit access but they do not stop your friends from sharing your information with others.