Safe Computing

10 Tips for Safe Computing

Safe computing is a combination of how you technically protect your computer with software and security settings as well as the actions you take yourself.  You need both to really make a difference in your security.  Here are some tips that will help you protect your computer and, ultimately, the information stored on it.

1.  Keep Your Computer Updated

Regardless of the make or model of your computer or devices, there are almost constant updates available for your operating system software.  Make updating your computer and other security programs a continuous process to ensure the utmost security for your system.

2.  Create Strong, Secure Passwords - And Protect Them

Choose strong passwords with letters, numbers, and sometimes special characters.  Create a mental image or acronym that is easy for you to remember, but hard for others to figure out.  Password protect all of your devices, create a different password for each important account, and change passwords regularly. Generally a longer password is a more secure password (over 12 characters). If you have a feeling that your account has been compromised please reset the password. If Two-Factor authentication is an option, enable it.

3.  Download Files Legally

Along with the possibility of significant legal penalties, downloading music and movies from peer-to-peer networks can be harmful to your machine.  These downloaded files can also be riddled with viruses and spyware.  Make sure your files are from legitimate and respected sites that are completely legal in everyone's eyes.

4.  Keep Personal Information Safe

Never share your personal information via email or other unofficial websites.  Always check and double-check the sources for validity before proceeding.  Don't allow unfamiliar companies or individuals access into your computer as you may not know their exact intentions.

5.  Beware of Email Scams/Phish

Only respond to emails that come from a trusted source. Avoid clicking links which look like gibberish, are sent to you by unknown persons or that seem unusual from the person that sent it. Avoid giving out personal or financial information. If you open an email or see a pop-up window message and it is asking for personal information, do not click any links.  Instead, report suspicious emails for spam.

6.  Lock Your Computer

If it is necessary to leave your computer unattended, physically lock it to prevent theft.  Also password protect your device to safeguard your information.

7.  Log Off Any Public Areas

Public areas are exactly that - public.  Be sure to completely log off the site of machine when you are finished using it.  Avoid allowing it to save your passwords to further protect your information and other stored data.

8.  Back Up Important Data

We have seen final papers and family photos vanish - hard drives crash and files become corrupt.  If you have important information you cannot afford to lose, back it up.  Information can be backed up using external hard-drives, or maybe even consider using one of the many options of cloud storage. 

9.  Limit Information On Social Media Sites

In the age of social oversharing, people post almost everything online.  From birth dates and anniversaries to address and phone numbers, virtually all of a person's personal information can be discovered.  Protect yourself and your identity by limiting what information you share and whom you share it with.  Also, avoid excessive third-party site applications as many are fronts for viruses and account hijackers.

10.  Avoid Surfing Websites That You Don't Already Know

A trustworthy website will be well-organized, appear official and will help you find information or perform an action.  If you find yourself second guessing the website, find an alternative site.  Try and stick with the websites you trust.