While computer security is top of mind for many people and protecting yourself from all cyber security threats seem daunting, just a few simple steps can stop almost all of today’s cyber security threats.
For example, Windows is installed on about 90 percent of the world’s computers, but Windows is often the trap door through which machines become infected with malicious software, otherwise known as malware.
This malware can be used to hijack computers and gather personal information.
Fully half of the malware infections Microsoft found could have been prevented if Windows Update had been turned on. To turn it on in Windows 7, go to Control Panel – System and Security – Windows Update – Change Settings – Important updates and click “Install updates automatically (recommended).”
You’ll now get security updates that protect against new malware and you can decide when to install them.
Another 40 percent of malware discovered on computers had been installed on the machine by the user who was not aware that the software included malicious code. This can be prevented by searching the internet for any problems with the software before you install it and scanning every installation file with antivirus software to ensure it is safe.
So, by simply turning on Windows Update and scanning installation files with antivirus software, you can eliminate as much as 90 percent of malware on your Windows machine. But it’s not just Windows users who have to worry.
Computing devices running Apple’s operating systems and Google’s Android are also susceptible.
Symantec regional product marketing manager for consumers David Hall said smartphone users have to be extra careful, because their devices are easy to lose.
Most smartphone owners don’t password protect their phones, so it is easy for cyber snoopers to access personal and corporate email on such phones, social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter, and online shopping such as Amazon.
Your phone often holds the keys to your on-line identity. The average smartphone user has 25 applications on their phone, many of which are set to automatically access password protected areas that allow the user to shop on-line, make bank transfers or stock transactions.
Installing a smartphone password is like locking a parked car. If you are a phone owner with no password, you should enable one on your phone now. In addition, you should make your application passwords as complex as you can stand. It’s not as hard you might think.
For passwords where you can use letters, such as Facebook, try the first letters of the words in the first line of your favorite song, so The Beatles’ “Love Me Do” becomes LLMDYKILY.
Also, never give your password to anyone and avoid writing it down. You should avoid using unsecured wi-fi networks in cafes, hotels and airports, because passwords are often broadcast unencrypted. If you must use an unsecured network, though, it’s a good idea to change your password afterward.