Back to basics with these 10 computer & online safety tips

    • Got protection? This may seem like a no brainer, but security software is the new “black”. It helps you stay fully protected against malware, spyware, hackers and identity theft. And don’t forget to perform regular updates and scans.

  • Password strength matters. Strong passwords include 8-14 upper and lower case characters and numbers. Be sure to avoid any words that are in the dictionary—they’re too easy for attackers to guess.
  • Stay current! Remember that random program you downloaded to watch the funny video Aunt Sally sent? You probably haven’t updated that program since you watched, but guess what? That one program if left on its own, could leave your system vulnerable to outside attacks.
  • Firewall is your friend. Current versions of Windows include a firewall that helps prevent malicious traffic from reaching your PC. Turn it on and leave it on.
  • Click with care. If you’re checking your email or talking over IM, make it a practice to avoid clicking on links in messages from people you don’t know. These links could lead you to a malicious web site or even download malware onto your machine.
  • Practice safe online shopping. When you’re going to buy those new killer shoes or the latest toy for your tike make sure you make purchases from a reputable online retailer. You should also look for a URL that starts with “https” and has the lock symbol before entering your credit card information.
  • Socialize safely! By now we’ve probably all gotten a bad link or two sent to us over our favorite social network. Utilize your social network’s security settings to their optimum level. Do you really need anyone in your network to read every detail about your life?
  • Keep your privates, private! A good rule of thumb: Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of your local newspaper! This includes your personal phone number, email address and street address—or your vacation plans.
  • Stomp out spam! Most Internet Service Providers & security software programs have anti-spam technologies. The spam blocker will help prevent fraudulent emails from showing up in your Inbox.
  • Be careful where you surf. Open wireless networks are called “open” for a reason: anyone can connect, including attackers. If you have to use one, make sure you use VPN software to protect yourself from other people who want to see your wireless traffic.
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