From the time most of us are children, we are taught the importance of water safety. We know to always swim with a buddy, to never dive into the water without first knowing how deep the water is or if there are any hazards such as rocks and to be wary of swift currents.

We also know when we need a life jacket or floating device such as swimming long distances or going white water rafting and to know and honor our swimming limitations.

So what does this all have to do with the internet and internet security?

The truth of the matter is some people dive into the internet without thinking about protecting their identity, their documents or their clients’ information. They click onto website without knowing for sure if they are safe and even use the same password for all their accounts.

One major misconception people have is they assume because they have a computer security program installed on their computer that they are safe. Good security for your computer is only 10 percent security safeguards that are technical and 90 percent of security safeguards rely on you to use good computing practices.

Think of this way – the lock on your car doors is the 10 percent security. You remembering to lock the car, not leave your keys dangling from your purse or pocket so someone could steal them and making certain the car doors are closed is the other 90 percent. To surf the internet safely, you need to have both a security system and common sense.

We have all either had it happen to us or a family member or a friend whose computer has been hacked. Not only is it a bit unnerving to think someone has access to whatever you have put on your computer – from your photographs to finances to documents – it is also frustrating to have to take your computer to be repaired and the time you lose working on necessary projects.

Unfortunately, the way we all need to think is there is someone who wants to take what is ours and have it for themselves for personal or financial gain. Think about how thieves are using techniques to steal information when you use your ATM card at your bank to websites that lure you into thinking they are safe but only take your personal information. Although using technology has become a way of life for many of us, we are not always using the safest and latest techniques.

The reality is thousands of computer attacks happen per minute and an unprotected computer can be infected within seconds of being connected to the internet.

Whether you are looking to protect your personal computer or your business’s computers, here are some tips to keep your computer safe from viruses and more.

  1. Secure your password. When visiting internet sites, choose a strong password that can’t be easily hacked. Use numbers and signs such as @, % or ?. Don’t use the same password for all your accounts such as bank, emails or social media sites.
  2. Make sure you have an antivirus software and that it’s up-to-date. An anti-virus software is like a flu shot. It prevents a virus or a worm from attaching to your computer and if it finds a nasty code, it will work to remove it.
  3. One mistake people make is thinking antivirus software is enough to protect them. You need the double up method of making sure you also have an anti-spy technology. There are thousands of companies that want to collect data on you – whether it’s to know your shopping habits to what you read or watch on TV. Make sure when you are purchasing anti-spy ware it is from a reliable source.
  4. Do you have a firewall and is it turned on? Make sure you have a firewall, which protects your computer from hackers.
  5. Know what you are opening and what you are downloading. From taking a quiz on Facebook to downloading an email from someone you don’t know to visiting a site you think is safe but really isn’t – all are ways of risking your computer’s safety. Just because you have installed safety devices such as anti-virus software doesn’t mean you are safe and can do whatever you want. Know before you open or download just like know before you jump into the water.
  6. Is your system up-to-date? Just like you need to take your car in for a check-up or to get the oil changed, you need to take your computer in for a check-up to make sure your programs are up-to-date. Think of your computer like your house. Even if you make sure to lock the front door, a robber will go around your house looking for another point of entry – a side door, unlocked window or even the doggie door. Same holds true for hackers. They will look for points of weakness in your computer security and use that as an entry way to steal your data or cause havoc to your computer.
  7. Say goodnight to your computer. Before you leave work for the day or go to bed at night, turn off your computer. When your computer is on, that gives attackers a chance to invade. When it’s turned off, they can’t get in.
  8. Find someone you trust with your computer. Just like you have taken the time to select a doctor, dentist, tax accountant or car mechanic, pick someone you trust to advise you on the best security programs for your computer. Ask around for recommendations.
  9. And most importantly, take care of your computer. Too often we look for ways to save money – thinking maybe we don’t need anti-virus or anti-spyware. By talking to a professional, he or she can access your computer’s needs and make sure you have the required security software to keep your computer safe, protect your business and protect your customer’s information.

 

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