In today’s world of ubiquitous computer use and persistent cyber threats from hackers and scammers, protecting your computer is essential. But, doing this doesn’t have to be difficult or cost you an arm and a leg. Just follow these 5 easy and mostly free tips to secure your computer.
1. Use Multifactor Authentication (MFA). How does Multifactor Authentication work? Most websites and software like Microsoft Office 365 have an option for MFA. Multifactor Authentication protects against phishing, social engineering and password brute-force attacks. It secures your logins from attackers who work to exploit your weak credentials.
How does Multifactor Authentication work?
After you enter your password, you’ll be asked to enter a second factor for authentication like a code that will be sent to you via a text message to your cell phone or an email. It’s up to you to decide which notification type to use. Once you enter the code on the website, you’ll be provided access. This way, even if a criminal obtains your password, they would also need the code from your smartphone to access your account. Without it, they would immediately be denied.
And, you must be able to generate the MFA for your employees wherever they are. There are tools that can generate time-based, one-time passcodes (TOTP). Your users simply key in the login prompt they receive to complete their multifactor authentication.
2. Back Up Your Files. You can do this with cost-effective cloud solutions like OneDrive or Dropbox, as well as an external hard drive. It’s very important that you back up your files every day, and preferably once an hour. Set backups to occur automatically. And make sure that your backup systems are encrypted.
You should also develop a policy for your business that specifies what data is backed up, how often it’s backed up, where it’s stored and who has access to the backups. If your computer or server goes down and you haven’t backed up, all of your data will be lost.
Why should you back up your files to the Cloud?
Here are the reasons why we believe that storing your data in the Cloud is a much better alternative than storing data onsite.
- Cloud providers always invest in the right security solutions.
- Cloud service providers take security seriously… from physical security, to who has access to the data center, and who can get access to the information online.
Secured data centers combine high-tech safeguards with the latest in server room controls. This prevents the theft of equipment while providing the best protection against fire and heat. You’ll know that your data is:
- Protected by stringent levels of physical security.
- Monitored 24/7.
- Housed in buildings designed explicitly for high-tech networking equipment with suppression systems that won’t engage sprinkler systems on equipment in case of fire.
The right IT provider can ensure that your information is replicated in multiple data centers. Some cloud services only have one or two. Also, make sure they provide geo-tracking capabilities, so you won’t worry about bandwidth, and so your backed up data will always be easily recoverable and accessible.
3. Use Complex Passwords. Make sure you use complex passwords with capitalization, symbols and numbers. This is essential because cybercriminals use software to brute force passwords so they can steal your data and/or money. And, many accounts don’t have a lock-out threshold. So criminals can use this software all day to discover your passwords.
Easy passwords might allow you to access your accounts quickly, but they can do the same for hackers. The more characters you use, the better. One thing you can do if you can’t remember passwords is to use a passphrase instead of a password. For example w1Nt3r iZ com;nG? instead of “winter is coming.”
Weak passwords are easy to compromise, and if that’s all that stands between your data in the Cloud and applications, your organization could be at serious risk for a catastrophic breach. Here are some tips when it comes to creating strong passwords:
1. Use at least 8 characters that include:
- Upper and Lower Case letters
- Numbers and Letters
- Special Characters such as #!&
2. Use a unique password for each website or cloud application.
3. Change passwords every 90 days.
4. Never share passwords.
5. Use a password manager.
Passwords remain a go-to tool for protecting your data, applications, and computers. They also remain a common cybersecurity weakness because of the careless way employees go about trying to remember their login information.
Another good choice is to use a password management solution. A password manager generates, keeps track of, and retrieves complex and long passwords for you to protect your vital online information. It also remembers your PINS, credit card numbers and three-digit CVV codes if you choose this option. Plus, it provides answers to security questions for you. All of this is done with strong encryption that makes it difficult for hackers to decipher.
How does a password manager work?
Password managers automatically store your login credentials for the various sites you visit. Passwords are encrypted in a database using a master password, so all that you need to remember is your master password.
When creating a new password manager account, the first thing to do is to choose a master password. This controls access to your password management database. Make sure it’s a strong password that you can remember because it’s the only one you’ll be using. You can change it later if you need to.
Your master password can be connected to the active directory, which means you can use this one password to log in to computers, send emails and wherever you need to use a password. And when your passwords need updating, you only have to change the master password.
To use the password management software you simply input your master password for the password management software. The program automatically fills in the appropriate login data for you. You can also configure it to store your email address, username and other data.
4. Don’t Click The Unsubscribe Button. When you keep getting emails that you don’t want, many times they come with an unsubscribe button so you can opt out of these emails. The unsubscribe button can hold malicious code.
Why shouldn’t you click an unsubscribe button?
Clicking “Unsubscribe” in a fraudulent email won’t result in your email address being removed from the scammer’s email list. What will happen is this:
- You’ve just verified for the scammer that your email address is a valid and active address. This makes your email address even more valuable to the scammer.
- You’ll be taken to a malicious website that will download malware onto your computer. And it may trick you into falling for a scam offer.
Or if the process to unsubscribe says to key the word “unsubscribe” in a reply email, then what you’ve just done was to confirm that your email address is active. Plus your return email will leak information about the email software you use.
The best thing to do is to send the email to your Junk Folder and block the sender. This will ensure that you won’t get emails from this sender again, and you won’t be tempted to click unsubscribe buttons that can download malware to your computer.
5. Use A Good Antivirus. You must use a good antivirus (not the one that came with your computer). A cloud-based antivirus is best to use. It might cost you a few dollars a month, but it’s necessary to keep malware and other viruses off your computer. A cloud-based antivirus relies on an online centralized database that’s always kept up-to-date with the latest virus definitions.
So when you scan one or more files using a cloud antivirus program, it’s checked against this online database of threat signatures. Even though you need an internet connection for the cloud-based antivirus software to work, the majority of them can keep a cached copy of the most common virus signatures on your computer so you can use it offline as well.
So, now you know the 5 easy and mostly free tips to secure your computer. If you found this information helpful, visit our Blog to learn more about computer and IT security.