Ask yourself how secure you think your technology is. Does your PC have virus software? Is the firewall enabled? Is your Internet connection wired or wireless? If you say “no” or “not sure” to any of these questions, you have a problem. Your information might be getting broadcast to any passing hacker who finds your data.
While this isn’t to say that you’re in immediate danger of getting your personal information stolen, you are at a higher risk. You need to take steps to secure your personal devices and computers and control who accesses what. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it does need to get done. Following are some tips to help you get started.
Check Your Connection Settings
Many people prefer the convenience of wi-fi over using their cellular data. The same goes for in-home Internet connections. It’s much easier to set up an intranet using wi-fi than it is to run cable everywhere. But is the wireless router protected with a password? If it’s not, you’re open to the world at large. Random users can freely access your Internet and use data without your knowledge. Thieves can trap the information you transmit and look for passwords, personal and financial information they can use or sell.
When you’re at home, make sure you’ve password protected your router. It’s easy, but if you have problems, do an Internet search for your particular router model and look for instructions on how to password protect it. When you’re away from home using your laptop on a public node, do not, under any circumstances, use that connection for financial or personal business. It’s not safe and anyone can listen in to your transmitted data. Wait until you’re at a secure connection or home to do your transactions.
Firewalls and Anti-Virus Protection
Firewalls work to keep unwanted intruders out. When someone or something gets past the firewall, an anti-virus monitoring program takes over. Firewalls on their own provide very strong protection, but sometimes an unwanted program gets past. Anti-virus programs and system scanners work to find the unwanted programs, then delete them from the system.
Check your system settings to make sure that the firewall is turned on. All major OS’s either turn it on automatically or prompt you to do it. Use an anti-virus program that is updated frequently to ensure that the latest threats to PCs are covered.
Watch What You Click On
There’s a general rule of thumb to not click on unfamiliar links, especially ones in an email. The problem is, the Internet is made up of links. It’s better to be safe than sorry and practice safe clicking when browsing.
If you’re not sure of a link in email or on a website, hover your mouse over the link. The browser shows you the real URL in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. If the link looks weird or the URL to the website doesn’t look right, don’t click. Go directly to the website for the information, or send an email asking for help.
Image via Flickr by Sunil Soundarapandian