How Can I Keep My Computer Secure?

What steps should I take to ensure my computer stays secure?

December 11, 2019

Why do I need to have my computer working properly?

  • Outdated Operating systems pose a security risk to you and your data. Windows 7 needs to be updated to Windows 10 immediately because of security risks as support ends on January 9, 2020. The same is true for the outdated Apple OS. Always keep your updates and OS current! I also recommend updating Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. An in place upgrade can be done after a thorough tune-up with removal of all infections, obsolete and corrupted programs and files, then after all current Windows and Apple updates and other updates are installed the new operating system or OS upgrade can be installed.
  • Outdated computers and cellphones with lack of support for the new operating systems or OS need to be replaced and set up. Contact an expert for advice.
  • Identity theft is a costly and serious problem in today’s society.
  • Slow and infected computers waste time, create annoying freeze ups and pop ups and much frustration.
  • Criminals gain access to your important information and can install other malware programs on your computer.
  • People use their computers every day for e-mails, web browsing, purchasing items online and making financial transactions.
  • Computers need tune-ups to be properly maintained.

What are the steps I can take to prevent identity theft?

  • Shred all paper documents, and destroy old credit cards, CDs, and DVDs containing personal information before discarding them.
  • Physically destroy your hard drive with a hammer or strong magnet if disposing of your commuter or laptop.
  • Do not give out your social security number, PIN, or bank account numbers on the Internet. Credit card purchases are OK from online vendors you trust with well-known names, like Amazon, EBay, Walmart; however, always make sure it is their actual website!
  • Always look for a VeriSign Secured label, or other verification of site privacy, like hacker-tested, BBB Reliability Program (Better Business Bureau Online), Trusted Commerce for online transactions, or Trusted Bank Sites for online banking that were originally set up through your bank.
  • In case you did not know, the “s” in https:// means your connection is secured. It will appear on secure online banking web pages and other transaction sites. Unfortunately, no indicator is totally foolproof, and some sites have forged icons and security certificates.
  • SSL Certificates secure all of your data as it is passed from your browser to the website’s server. To get an SSL Certificate, the company must go through a validation process.
  • Do not reply to e-mails that are too good to be true. Some examples: “You won $100,000 in a sweepstakes; we need all your personal information to process the check,” or “Send us money and you’ll receive something more in return.”
  • Make sure your computer is set up properly to begin with and get a thorough tune-up when needed. Make sure it is not infected with root kits, keyloggers, back-door Trojans, or other malware. It’s your information, so take care of it.
  • Use an Internet security software program, an antispyware-and-malware removal program, a firewall behind a router, and a Junk file removal program.
  • Keep updates current for all programs. Hackers love security holes. Make sure automatic updates are turned on.
  • Use strong passwords with letters and numbers. Use combined upper and lowercase letters, numerals, and symbols. A minimum of eight digits is the rule of thumb. Pick a password that someone else will not guess and is not easily available. With online passwords, users are generally locked out after three incorrect attempts, but policies do vary. Do not use your mother’s maiden name, your date of birth, the digits of your social security number, your pet’s name, consecutive numbers, your date of graduation, your children’s names, your address, or anything someone might guess. Here is a strong password example: 218@Tee!3Hx&
  • Make sure you initiate contact before giving information over the phone, in person, through the mail, or on the computer. Always know the person or company before giving the information, or obtain a recommendation from someone you trust.
  • The best policy is not to open files, programs, internet sites, or e-mails from people or companies you do not know. Delete Junk mail on a regular basis. Be careful with file sharing programs by knowing whom you share your information with.
  • Two-factor authentication (2FA), also known as two-step verification or multifactor authentication, is widely used to add a layer of security to your online accounts. The most common form of two-factor authentication when logging into an account is the process of entering your password and then receiving a code via text on your phone that you then need to enter. The second layer in two-factor authentication means a hacker or criminal individual would need to steal your password along with your phone in order to access your account.
  • Make a backup copy of all your documents, pictures, videos, favorites, desktop, downloads, and other data, and keep it in a safe place. You then have a backup if your computer hard drive fails or if the computer is non bootable, stolen or damaged.

How can I tell if my computer is infected?

  • Your computer starts up or shuts down slowly, or it just runs slowly.
  • Your web browser opens to display advertisements and pop-ups.
  • A rogue security program appears with a list of infections and asks you to purchase their program. (Here is the link to a comprehensive list: List of rogue security software)
  • Web pages are added to your Favorites.
  • Your Internet browser does not respond or suddenly closes.
  • Your Internet security or antivirus program is grayed out, has disappeared, or has stopped responding.
  • You start getting numerous e-mails from people you do not know or have not solicited.
  • Your default search engine has changed.
  • Your computer restarts without your prompting.
  • Black boxes open and close fast or desktop icons flash.
  • Your e-mail Internet service provider sends you a message to stop sending spam or freezes your account.
  • New toolbars are added to your Internet browser, taskbar, or desktop.
  • E-mail messages are returned to you as “undeliverable.”
  • Task Manager, run, msconfig, regedit, and other command prompts do not work.
  • Safe Mode does not load.
  • Infection-removal tools do not install or run properly.
  • Your files are encrypted.

Happy Computing, Mark Wilcox
If you Would Like to Work with Mark Wilcox Computer Services Inc. You can contact me via 218-735-8212 (Shop) or 218-290-1339 (Cell) and the shop is located at 8942 Willow Drive
Mountain Iron, MN 55768

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