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Top 10 Tips for Safe Computing

As technology has advanced, we as people and as a society have become more dependent on computer systems. From virus infections to identity theft to hardware issues – any and all of these disruptions can have huge ramifications on our lives. No matter how up-to-speed the user is adopting the correct computer practices is a combination of protecting our systems using security software and knowing the ins and outs of the computer. Below are 10 tips that I think will help you protect your system from any unfortunate mishaps in the future. 


1. Keep the System Updated

With the ever increasing number of computer viruses out there, it becomes increasingly more important that your system has some form of antivirus software on it and that it is kept up-to-date. Most of these antivirus programs have an automated update feature built into them.

Whether the decision to update the operating system is done manually or automatically, it’s recommended that this process be carried out on a regular basis. It’s also important that you keep all your installed software up-to-date. Software updates will usually contain bug fixes and security patches, designed to address identified vulnerabilities.

2. Use Strong Passwords

A strong password will typically contain a mixture of upper and lower case letters, in addition to numbers, symbols and spaces. You should never share your confidential data with other people, and you should have different passwords for all of your different accounts. Changing your passwords every six months is another good idea.

3. Backup Your Data

For those files that you want to keep safe and secure, be sure to back them up. If you regularly back up your computer, you can protect it from any unexpected mishaps in the feature. The only real decision that you must make, is deciding where to put the backups. The options you have available include CD/DVDs, network locations, or external hard drives.

4. Restrict Access to Your System

In environments where you have multiple users accessing a single computer, it pays to restrict administrative access of that system to only the most advanced computer users. This way, only the users that have administrative access will be able to install additional programs on the computer, or alter sensitive settings. Everyone else should have a basic user accounts, as this will eliminate any drastic changes occurring on the computer.

5. Scan Your Email Attachments

If you want to keep viruses off your system, then you will need to scan all email attachments that are sent to you. Viruses so often get onto our systems by lurking in emails, sent by friends and family members. While, a virus hidden inside a photo is enough to trick most users, an antivirus program will have little difficultly identifying it. If you receive a link in an email, it’s always best to examine the actual URL before you decide whether or not to click on it. This way, you can determine where the link will take you, before you make the drastic decision to go there.

6. Lock Your System

When you’re not on your computer, its best practice for you to lock it, as this will prevent anyone from stealing it. A password protected screen saver and a complex user password is the best way to go.

7. Encrypt Your Files

One thing that you should never do is put sensitive information in emails, like passwords, credit card details and other sensitive information. You can never be too sure how many servers this data will pass through before it reaches its destination, or who has access to these servers. In order to make a private message secure, you must first encrypt it, before you send the data, the data can then be decrypted once it reaches its destination.

8. Avoid Dodgy Websites

The web browser is probably the biggest vulnerability to your system. Malicious files are being written every day to exploit these browsers like Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer. So be safe by visiting only the websites you know are safe.

While you can never be too sure which website is safe for you to visit, being a little more cautious should go a long way in extending your systems life.

9. Limit Information on Social Media Sites

People post virtually anything on these social media sites nowadays. For most people into these things, they will post their phone numbers, birth dates, address and other personal stuff. Protect your identity from theft by minimising the amount of information you disclose on the internet.

10. Use Firewall Software

Both Windows and Mac operating systems come with firewall software. When you properly set these firewalls up, they can be used to protect your computer files and prevent hackers from gaining backdoor access to your computer.

--AUTHOR INFO—

Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website http://www.compuchenna.co.uk .
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