Here in LLoyd’s Tech Solutions department (the internal IT hub of LLoyd), we see all sorts of malware, viruses, and popups on a daily basis. If you are in a role where you often get attachments and links from people you don’t already know – it’s natural to worry about maintaining the safety and security of your computer, particularly when you bring work home from the office, or open email and documents on your personal devices. Based on the onslaught of questions and concerns from our colleagues, we have created these guidelines to help our co-workers, clients and candidates keep their computers as safe as possible.
Here are our Top 6 Tips for Computer Safety:
- UPDATE, UPDATE, and then UPDATE SOME MORE!
The first and probably easiest way to combat internet heathens is to keep your computer and software updated. Most, if not all, major software manufacturers are constantly updating their software to keep the bad guys at bay. Keeping Windows updates current, as well as Java, Adobe, anti-virus software, and pretty much any and all software updated will hopefully keep you one step ahead.
- Make sure you have anti-virus software!
This won’t stop everything from getting in, but it’s a great start. Sophos has a free version for your home computer that works very well. There are many others that a good Google Search will also turn up.
- Choose STRONG PASSWORDS!
We know, we know. How are you supposed to remember all those alpha-numeric, one capital letter, and at least one special character!? Well, that’s a great question, but using a weak password for anything online-related comes with a risk. Just choose your password wisely. Make it almost impossible to crack. Even though you choose a password like “M@ttr3ss!” it’s still a word, and it can still get hacked by a dictionary attack. Choose a line from your favorite song, and then just adjust it so it meets the criteria of the site requiring the password. Here’s an example: $he’sbUyingAstairwayT0heaven
It’s Best Practices to change your password every 90 days.
- Back up your files and photos on a regular basis.
This can be done with an external USB drive, or even online “cloud” storage places like OneDrive and DropBox. If you do choose to use a USB drive, move that drive off-site. If there is a catastrophe at your home, and your back up files are there too, it’s not going to help!
- Control access to your computer.
Almost all operating systems these days allow multiple users. Perhaps your children shouldn’t be administrators of the machine. By not allowing them to install software, you may be able to better protect your system. Make sure you log off when you leave the house. The last thing you want to deal with in the event of a break in, is also having your identity stolen.
- Common Sense!
This is a big one. Be extremely wary of attachments from people you don’t know, as well as from people you do know, as they may have been hacked themselves. Don’t click on attachments without scanning them with a well-known Anti-Virus solution. Be aware of any type of phishing, even if it seems to be from your financial institution. Direct your web browser to their site, sign in, and check to see if there are any security alerts from them.
Think Before You Click
Be aware that any site that offers you something for free is most likely going to try and get something out of it. This goes for online “movie” sites, freeware, pirated software, pirated music etc. Before you blindly open a video, hover over the link. Here’s an example that implies a free candy site, but when you hover, you can see the link is to LLoyd. www.Free-Candy.com Remind yourself to check a link’s destination before clicking.
By following these steps, you should hopefully be able to protect yourself from the malicious content located on the internet, in your email, and on some of your websites of choice. Remember, when you get lost online, whether it be a desktop or a handheld device, there is a tendency to click without thinking. You must always be vigilant about the unknown predators waiting for you to give them a door of opportunity.
Billy Verastzo is the Vice President of Technology for LLoyd Staffing. When he’s not behind a computer or fixing a server or two, you can find him playing drums, going out to watch local bands, or driving one of his vintage Corvettes.