The term ‘Hacker’ has been rampant around the internet recently. Actually, it has been the dirty word of the internet since the 80’s and the classic hacker movies of the early 90’s. It’s not a word you want to throw around loosely; it scares people and causes panic because the path of destruction can be crippling.
Whether your 15 year old opened a scam email and infected your family computer, or a virus has taken down your entire system at the office – most people have witnessed the effects of an online security breach.
While the term Hacker has seen resurgence (particularly in the social media channels) with the handywork of LulzSec, and the recent attacks in Syria and Hong Kong; now might be a good time to review a few tips to reduce your computer security risks.
Computer Safety Tips:
- Run an updated virus protection: viruses change on a daily basis, make sure you have the right protection and that it isn’t out of date or expired.
- Change your password regularly: Even a slight adjustment every few months will help, and keep it a secret!
- Read and pay attention to the terms and copyrights of downloaded files: Don’t just click ‘OK’. Do a little bit of reading into what the file contains and where it will end up on your computer.
- Make sure your OS (Operating System) is patched: You can be left vulnerable without proper and up-to-date patches. If you are unsure about the staus of your patches, talk to your IT team (or infrastructure host) regularly about updates.
- Run backups on all your files! It’s simple, but too often underused. Just like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, you will be happy you did.
- Be conscious of how you are transmitting personal or sensitive information: don’t send credit card info or passwords in the body of an email, it’s just not safe. If you need to send information, attach it as a file or even better – pick up the phone and communicate it verbally.
- Lock your computer when it is unattended: this will save you from pranks and information stealing. It’s like leaving your baggage unattended at airports…
- Be careful of resource-intensive software/streaming files and media. Be proactive, set rules and limits at home and at the office. Make sure all media is downloaded from a reputable source.
- Choose a reputable host: Ask questions about security methods/systems, read customer testimonials, get what you pay for!
Some of these tips seem simple, routine and come second-nature. But incorporating all of these suggestions into your regular computer habits can save you a lot of devastation, recovery time and money at the hands of a hacker or a virus.
Christine Sheppard is the marketing and communications voice at Atum Corporation – a VPS hosting and IT Solutions Company. Atum is a Canadian leader in VPS solutions and virtualization and Christine draws upon her inherent interest in the advance of new computer technology to discuss topics in Cloud Computing, Virtualization and emerging business trends.