Risk Analysis and Management
We can all take steps to protect ourselves online. Here are six simple steps to make your computer more secure.
1. Keep software and your OS up to date
From your operating system (OS) to your web browser to Microsoft Office software, it’s essential to keep on top of updates to avoid malware entering your computer. Technology companies are continually fixing bugs, and these may remain unresolved in older versions of operating systems and applications, so it’s crucial you play your part in your own cybersecurity too. Staying up to date is especially important in the case of operating systems, which are responsible for managing files and connecting to the internet. Both Apple and Microsoft only support their most recent operating systems, which they detail on their websites.
2. Install an antivirus program
To get protection against the very latest virus threats (and there are thousands of new viruses detected each year) it’s important to install antivirus software on your computer (including Macs) and keep the software up to date. There are some free, no-frills versions of antivirus software, but if you buy software off the shelf, you’ll be able to select extra features—look out for those with anti-spyware, firewall, and parental control protection too.
3. Make the most of your computer’s security settings
Most computers have built-in firewalls to protect you against viruses, but in some (Macs in particular), you need to actively select the feature in your computer’s security settings. Similarly, you may find that your laptop features hard disk encryption to encrypt all or certain files on the hard drive, making them useless to intruders. Turn this feature on if you store sensitive information.
4. Check your email settings
Besides watching out for suspicious emails that arrive in your inbox, enable any junk mail filters and opt for two-factor authentication if your email service supports the feature. Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook plus a number of others currently support the feature (you’ll also find it on Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, and other services too).
5. Choose passwords wisely
Strong and different passwords across all your accounts is essential. You can find automatic password generators online, but a good way to help you choose and remember a good password is to pick a long phrase and take the first letter of each word. Make some letters uppercase and swap out some letters with numbers or symbols to make the word or phrase more secure.
6. Make your browser secure
As well as keeping your browser updated, review your browser’s privacy and security settings. In particular, check that the browser is blocking third-party cookies. Cookies are small pieces of data that can be used to track your online activities. You’ll also find a range of other security options—look under the Preferences, Settings, or Internet Options panel depending on the browser you use to review what settings you’re comfortable with.
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