With the large number of scams, malicious files, hacks and more, circulating the internet, it can be a very dangerous place for you to be. And with the increasing number of new devices, such as tablets, smartphones and netbooks, all connecting to the internet, it opens up avenues for us to be exploited even more.
However, the good thing is that we’re not completely helpless. As there are things that we can do, to greatly decrease the level of risk posed, while on the internet.
Below are a number of tips that can help you in the immediate:
1. Enhance Your Network Security
One thing that you want to make sure of, is that your connections are secure. When you’re at work or at home, it’s more than likely that you’ll be on a network that’s guarded by a password. However, when you’re out and about, it’s not uncommon for people to use the public Wi-Fi networks around. The problem with these networks is that they are unsecure. This means, hackers will have little difficulty hacking into your device and obtaining sensitive data from it. As a counter measure, you should consider using a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN is basically a piece of software that acts as an additional layer of security between your system and the network. This way you can surf the internet in relative peace.
2. Back Up Your Computer
If you don’t back up your data on a regular basis, then everything stored on your system is at risk. Backing up your computer is a relatively simple process, so there’s no reason why you should not be doing it. There are hundreds of different tools that you can use to make the process a breeze. Windows comes with its own built-in solutions, so maybe its best you start there.
3. Be Aware Of Keyloggers
Keyloggers are basically little programs that are designed to record all your key strokes; essentially, everything you type on your keyboard. Hackers can very easily load them into public computers, which they can later check, without the owners knowing. It’s for this reason why you want to refrain from typing your credit card details or login details into any online service, while in a public forum.
4. Click Intelligently
While putting all the correct measures into place, it’s important that you don’t mess up all your efforts, by clicking unintelligently. A lot of the threats you’ll find online today are in the form of social engineering and phishing. This is basically when the victim is tricked into giving up sensitive information. They may receive it in the form of a spam email, with a fake free offer, online quizzes, click bait, and more. All of these tactics are all designed to achieve the same objective, which is to get your personal details. Thus, it’s important that you are aware of them, and take the necessary measures to minimise this threat.
5. Lock Your System When Not In Use
An individual, if they know what they’re doing, can compromise your system in a considerably short amount of time. If someone has unfettered access to your computer, then they essentially have free reign to do whatever they want while on it.
6. Use Your Own Applications
When going about your daily business, you may want to consider bringing your essential programs around with you. It’s possible for you to do this, by using a portable storage device. You might want to include things, such as your instant messaging service, your internet browser, and your main word processing application. When you utilise this method, it means you don’t need to store as much confidential information on your computer. There are a large assortment of programs that you can acquire, many of which are free to use.
7. Clean Out Your Files
When on a public computer, the first and last thing you’ll want to do is clean out its files. That means, the removal of cache files, cookies, temporary internet files and more. Once you’ve done that, you should then use the recycle bin, to ensure they cannot be restored. You’ll want to make it a priority to remove any cookies from a public computer, before using it, as this will prevent your windows session from being recorded.
8. Keep Up To Date
One of the most important things you can do with your computer, is ensure everything is up to date. That means, making sure the latest security patches are on your computer. The most effective way of doing this is to enable automatic updates. This way, you won’t forget to do it yourself. You also want to ensure that your operating system is set to perform regular scans.
9. Respect Usage Policies
When using any public network, it’s very important that you respect the policies laid out for its usage. This means, refraining from downloading illegal material, whether it be videos or music files or in more extreme cases, accessing inappropriate websites. This is not only to ensure you don’t get into trouble, but also to protect yourself from malicious files, like Trojans. As hackers love to use illegal material to disseminate these specific kinds of viruses.
10. Use a Firewall
No network is truly secure without a firewall, so you’d be wise to have one. A firewall is basically a digital barrier that exists between your computer device and unauthorised users. Due to its effectiveness and purpose, you’ll find it included with most things internet related. When you use a firewall program, you can rest assured that your devices that connect to the internet, such as your webcam, thermostats, and Internet of Things (IoT), will not be compromised. This is increasingly important for IoT devices, as many of them do not come with any sort of security of their own. This means hackers can very easily hacker into them.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website where he writes extensively on computer related issues.