Using a computer nowadays exposes you to a lot of possible hazards and risks from the online world. There are a lot of different Trojans, viruses, malwares that are created daily, with the intention to either create chaos in your computer, take over your computer or steal information from you. We could either deal with it by switching off our computer system, cutting all connections to the Internet or we could just manage the risks by adopting some safe practices that can protect us and help us to avoid the threats in the first place.
Of course, turning off our computer or cutting off our connection is unthinkable for many of us. We live and breathe off our computer and need it for our work, entertainment and just simply for the sake of it. Although that would have been the easier approach towards eliminating risk from the online world, the downside of not being able to surf the web, download stuffs and even using facebook is not actually what we dream off when we first thought of the potential risks from the Internet.
To enjoy a less risky environment when we connect to the Internet, there are some simple guidelines that we should stick to. First of all, we should always ensure that we have antivirus firewall software installed on our computers. This is the most basic step that anyone should take, even if you really like to throw caution to the wind, I would still say that you should install an antivirus firewall software so that you would not have to deal with the hassle of reinstalling your entire system when it crashes due to a Trojan that you accidentally brought home during one of your trips to the latest torrent sites. At the very least, an antivirus protection will reduce the pain when your system is infected by viruses or malware.
Using Firewall Properly
Installing a firewall is only halfway done; you need to set the firewall to block all incoming traffic so that there are no viruses or Trojans that will be able to accept connections and start communications with an external party. Set your firewall to deny all external connections and specify that only those software or tools, such as your web browser and email client, is able to connect to the Internet and is able to receive any traffic.
Using a Good Password
This has not much to do with antivirus protection but it concerns security and I really think we should pay attention here. You should really avoid using your wife’s or son’s names in your password. That would be one of the first words that a hacker would try when attempting to break into your account. Avoid common words and for that matter, avoid using words from the dictionary. You should use random alphanumeric letters such as “nmfoe3mo” or “y!7fj43dR” or “dPlkf32KL”. I know you will complain that they are difficult to remember but such passwords are also difficult for anyone to break into your account easily. And use a different password for different accounts especially your online banking accounts.
Disable File Sharing
Unless necessary for your work, I would not recommend that you use file-sharing, especially over a network. If it is required for work, then use password access to the files or folders and allow access only to specific users so that you can be certain of who has access to your files. Scan these files whenever you retrieve them for use on your computer as you cannot be certain of their cleanliness.
Do Not Download Software From Suspicious Websites
Downloading software and executing from the Internet carries some inherent risk especially when you are downloading from warez sites or torrent sites. These sites are notorious for distributing viruses and if you must download anything from these sites, you should scan them before unzipping or executing them.
Ensure That Your Operating System Security Patches are Up To Date
Operating systems are complicated software and are prone to bugs and security loopholes especially Windows. There are always patches to close off security gaps discovered by the developer’s engineers or by whitehat hackers. You must install or update your system regularly so that you do not leave your system open to attacks. This also applies to your web browsers and email clients that connects directly to the Internet and are vulnerable if they are not updated regularly.
Backup your Data
Lastly, this is not a security measure but a step to ensure that if your system is compromised, you still have your data. Back up all your data and all your passwords in an offline medium. It could be a portable harddisk or it could be data DVD but ensure that you password protect your data too.
Security measures are a necessity in the online world. We wish we could just connect and then browse the world wide web without any cumbersome software to protect us but we must remember that the Internet is no different from the real world. In the real world, we have the police to provide protection to us against thugs and criminals and in the offline world we have antivirus firewall software. In the real world, we have borders around our countries to prevent illegal immigrants from coming into our country and in the online world, we have firewalls to prevent illegal malwares from entering and gaining control of our system.
These basic security measures highlighted earlier should not be neglected. We want our freedom to be able to surf to anywhere on the Internet and be able to watch any online shows, download any software, music or movie and not be encumbered by any thoughts that our computer system could actually be compromised by viruses, Trojans, scams etc. That would be ideal but no longer possible in this world where hackers do this not just for mischief but also for profit. We need to protect ourselves and our system when we venture into the online world and I would say that installing an antivirus firewall software is only the first step.