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Top Computer Safety Tips

  • Patch, Patch, PATCH! Set up your computer for automatic software and operating system updates. Microsoft updates its operating system software very regularly. These patches don’t just add functions to programs etc but they are plugging holes that could be used to breach the security of your computer. An unpatched machine is more likely to have software vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
  • Install Antivirus software.
    There are many various types of Anti-Virus / Anti malware software available. If you have a tight budget you can easily download some free software such as Malwarebytes, Avast, AVG etc. When installed, the software should be set to scan your files and update your virus definitions on a regular basis.
  • Choose strong passwords.
    Choose strong passwords with letters, numbers, and special characters to create a mental image or an acronym that is easy for you to remember. Create a different password for each important account, and change passwords regularly. Don’t use the same password for everything.
  • Backup, Backup, BACKUP!
    Backing up your data on your laptop / computer regularly can protect you from the unexpected. Keep a few months' worth of backups and make sure the files can be retrieved if needed. You never know when you might need it.
  • Control access to your machine.
    Don't leave your computer in an unsecured area, or unattended and logged on, especially in public places such as coffee shops or airports etc.. The physical security of your machine is just as important as its technical security.
  • Use email and the Internet safely.
    Ignore unsolicited emails, and be wary of attachments, links and forms in emails that come from people you don't know, or which seem "phishy." Avoid untrustworthy (often free) downloads from freeware or shareware sites.
  • Use desktop firewalls.
    All computers have basic desktop firewall installed as part of their operating systems. When set up properly, these firewalls protect your computer by blocking any potential security breaches from affecting your computer.
Protecting a computer vs. safe computing behaviour
You can see from the list above that safe computing practices include a combination of how you physically or technically protect your computer by using software and security settings, and the actions you take. You need both to really make a difference. If you consistently use strong passwords, but then leave your computer unlocked and unattended in public places, you are still putting your data in jeopardy. If you use anti-virus software but aren't careful about replying to or forwarding suspicious looking emails, you still risk spreading a virus.

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