Defend Your Computer from Viruses, Hackers, and Spies
Protect yourself and your device
Today, we use internet-connected devices in all aspects of our lives. We go online to search for information, shopping, banking, doing homework, playing games and keeping in touch with family and friends via social networks. Therefore, our device contains a large amount of personal information about us. This may include banking and other financial records, as well as the medical information we want to protect. If your device is unprotected, identity theft and other fraudsters may be able to access and steal your personal information. Spammers may use your computer as a “zombie drone” to send spam that appears to be coming from you. Malicious viruses or spyware may be stored on your computer resulting in slower or corrupting files.
By using safeguards and good practices to protect your device, you can protect your privacy and your family. The following tips can help you reduce your risk while online.
Keep equipment safe
Be sure to download the recommended updates from your device’s manufacturer or operating system provider, especially for important software such as Internet browsers. Anti-virus software, anti-spyware and firewalls are also important tools to prevent device attacks.
Periodically update your system, browser, and critical applications, and take advantage of automatic updates when available. These updates eliminate software vulnerabilities and allow hackers to view your activity or steal information. Windows Update is a service provided by Microsoft. It will download and install software updates to the Microsoft Windows operating system, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, and will also provide you with security updates. Patches can also be automatically run for other systems, such as the Macintosh operating system. For mobile devices, be sure to install auto-distributed Android or iPhone updates.
Antivirus software protects your device from viruses that could damage your data, slow down or crash your device, or allow spammers to send e-mail through your account. Antivirus protection scans your files and your incoming email virus and then removes any malicious ones. You must keep your antivirus software updated to handle the latest “wrong” circulation of the internet. Most antivirus software includes a feature that automatically downloads updates when you go online. In addition, make sure that your software is up and running and that your system is free of viruses, especially if you download files or view e-mail from the Web. Set up your anti-virus software to check the virus daily. You should also have your system scanned at least once a month.
Spyware is software installed without your knowledge or consent to monitor your online activity and collect personal information when you are online. Some spyware, called keyloggers, logs everything you type, including your password and financial information. Signs that your device may be infected with spyware include a sudden series of ads that are taken to sites you do not want to go to and usually lower performance.
Spyware protection is included in some anti-virus software programs. Check your anti-virus software documentation for instructions on how to activate spyware protection. You can buy a separate anti-spyware program. Keep your anti-spyware updates up and running regularly.
To avoid spyware first, download the software only from sites you know and trust. Make sure the apps you’ve installed on your mobile device come from Apple App Store for iPhone or Google Play for Android devices.
Use powerful protection
Using complex passwords and robust authentication methods can help protect your personal information.
Choose a strong password
Protect your devices and your account against intruders by choosing passwords that are hard to guess. Use a combination of strong passwords, letters, numbers, and special characters of at least eight characters. Do not use words that are easily found in dictionaries or any reference to personal information, such as birthdays. Some programs used by hackers can try every word in the dictionary and can easily find personal information like the date of birth. Try using phrases to help you remember your password and use the first letter of each word in the phrase. For example, HmWc @ w2 – how much wood may marmot collet.
Choose a unique password for each online account you use: financial institution, social media or email. If you have too many passwords to remember, consider using the Password Manager software, which helps you create strong personal passwords and stay safe.
Use stronger certification
Many social media, e-mail and financial accounts allow for more powerful authentication methods. These methods can include fingerprinting, one-time code sent to a mobile device, or other functionality that ensures that the user should have access to the account. For more information on strong authentication methods, visit Lock Your Login Activity.
Protect your private information
When checking emails, visiting websites, posting to social media or shopping, take note of where you clicked and the information you provided. Unscrupulous websites or data theft may try to trick you into providing your personal data.
Be careful what you clicked on
Phishing attacks – hackers sending seemingly real information to trick you into giving up personal information – are getting more sophisticated. For example, you may receive an urgent message stating that your bank account is locked and asking you to enter your password and Social Security number to unlock it. Please double-click on the link in this type of message. Rather than directly requesting personal information, most real messages from financial institutions direct you to call or visit the website. You can also verify the email address that sent the message to make sure it came from the intended sender.
Be careful about what you share
Social media allows sharing of all aspects of life, but it is important to control who can access the information you share. Information thieves can use social media to post information to gather information and then use that information to break into other accounts or steal identity information. To protect yourself, use privacy settings to limit the visibility of your personal information on your personal network and to limit the amount of information you share with the public.
Respond to data leaks
Even if you make the right move, your data may be stolen from companies you trust, to ensure security. If you find that your personal information is not authorized by you, take steps to protect yourself. Put a fraud alert in your credit file. Check your annual credit report. If you suspect your information has been violated, freeze your credit file to prevent fraudsters from opening new accounts on your behalf. For more information, see Minister of Justice information on identity theft.
Do not let your child run the risk of family privacy. Make sure they know how to use the internet safely. For young children, install parental control software on your device to limit the sites your child can access. In order to protect your child’s future credits, consider setting a credit freeze for your child. But remember: no software can replace parental supervision.