These are some very important steps to take to maintain good computer hygiene, and to keep yourself safe from cyber criminals.
1) Operating System Security Updates
Every operating system has flaws and security breaches. These problems and bugs are often fixed, in the form of security updates.
So the first step is to make sure you are up to date with the most recent updates.
2) Install a Quality Anti-Virus Application
Quite simple – use one of the many anti-virus programs available today. Schedule a “full scan” weekly.
3) Keep your Anti-Virus Program Updated
New viruses emerge every day. Not updating your AV program will leave you exposed because your software won’t recognize many harmful threats.
So look for the “Update” button on your AV program and keep up with the latest virus signature definitions.
4) Install a Good Cyber Security Application
An anti-virus program alone is not enough anymore! New virus mutants penetrate them with ease.
Therefore you need a complementary solution to handle such threats.
Magen – Malware Vigilance is an advanced next-gen cyber security solution which alerts you of malware implementations and gives you the tools to cope with them and stay safe, even when the anti-virus program confuses these threats for legitimate files.
5) Watch Out While Using Email
If you get an email from someone you don’t know, be cautious about it!
Don’t open attachment files from unexpected emails. Before opening attachments check carefully the file extension – is it a program? Extensions of .exe .bat .scr or .bin are program extensions and opening a file with that extension activates a program on your computer. You should also be vigilant about opening PDF files because the PDF viewer has many vulnerabilities.
If a bank or credit card company emails you and to tells you your account was hacked or blocked, or tells you that a payment was rejected, or asks you to send a payment DON’T BELIEVE IT! They will always call you and will not use email for that purpose. There are many emails like this which are used for phishing the username and password to accounts, or they contain viruses in an attachment. (When in doubt, you can call your bank to ask them if there is really a problem with your account.)
The same goes for emails that tell you that you’ve won something or ask you to send money somewhere.
Another red light would be a message with broken, poorly written English, as it might be a scam.
So remember – If something doesn’t look right or if an email scares you… DELETE IT.
Today email attachments and links are the primary methods to infect the computers of innocent people. Try to be “malware vigilant” and be cautious before opening email attachments!
6) Surf the Web Securely
Avoid websites with explicit content and adult or hacking sites. If a site conducts any non-legal activity, it can also infect your computer with a virus.
Don’t let any site scan your computer for viruses, it might be a scam. Use legitimate software for that.
Don’t steal software (by using BitTorrent for example). Many pirate downloads contain some sort of malicious code embedded within the stolen software!
7) Password Handling
Although it’s tempting, avoid using the same password for different websites/services.
Don’t use dictionary words. Instead, make up a password which contains both upper and lower case letters, as well as numbers and special signs. If you keep a list of your registrations and passwords, keep it outside of your computer, or encrypt it so that if someone steals your list they will not be able to use it to access your accounts.
Don’t let your browser save passwords for sensitive sites! There are viruses that steal browser password lists. That list is all that is needed to penetrate those sites. So passwords for banking accounts, credit cards, and other valuable sites should not be kept in the browser password list!
8) Make Sure that File Extensions are Not Hidden.
Windows file explorer hides file extensions by default. This can lead people to activate programs without knowing it. To see all the extensions: within file explorer go to ”tools”, then choose ”folder options”. Select the “view” pane and uncheck “hide extension for known file types”.
In email attachments, look for files with double extensions:
For example, a “picture file” might be labeled with something like: filename.jpg.exe
Note that the second extension might be hidden, because it’s a known file type, so while the user thinks it’s an innocent picture, it is actually an executable file. In the case of multiple file extensions the attachment message is probably a VIRUS!
9) Scan Everything You Plug Into Your Computer
Whenever you plug in a flash drive, hard drive or even insert a CD, scan it for viruses with your preferred anti-virus and anti-malware software.
You can never know what might be on them. Do not run any program from this plugged-in media without proper inspection and awareness that it might be malware.
10) Use Some Form of Backup and Maintenance
Remember to back up your system and personal files from time to time. In today’s “cloud” environment, you can put your documents in a “cloud” service (such as Dropbox) and have it do the backups for you. (Do you recall that some cloud services have been hacked in the past…).
Having the documents mirrored in the cloud allows you to use multiple computers and devices to access them, and the files also can be recovered quickly if a computer melts-down for any reason.
You never know when a virus might penetrate your system and infect your files or even when a hard disk failure could occur.