Within the world of computing, there are those who study systems, networks, and programming extensively. Unfortunately, there are those who study those same areas to take advantage of other computer users. Dubbed ‘hackers,’ these individuals can create problem programs, take control of networks, and cause all sorts of difficulties for users. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to protect you PC against hackers.
1) Install security software
Make certain you have the three major components of security software installed on your computer. You will need a strong firewall, great antivirus software, and a reliable antispyware application. Before you being surfing the online community to find each of these pieces of software, though, it’s important to note that all of them have to come from reputable companies. You can start by talking with friends, family, and colleagues about what they use, but don’t let that be your only step in the process.
You should also carefully read the independent reviews from trusted sources about the programs you’re about to install. Take a look at online message boards and forums to see who has used this software in the past and how they felt about it. In most cases, you’ll be able to find quite a bit of information about the best programs on the market to help you make your decision. Also, keep in mind that most operating systems actually come with a firewall already installed, so you may just need to adjust your settings.
2) Update Regularly
If you have all of the necessary security software installed on your computer, you’ll want to update it regularly. Sure, it may seem like a new update comes out each day for your security programs, but new threats are introduced each day too, and regularly updating your software is the key to safe computing. Most software programs come with a method to schedule updates automatically, so if you think you may forget, schedule the software to update each day at a certain time.
3) Schedule regular security scans
Both your antispyware and antivirus software should be equipped with a scanner, and running a scan on your system at least once a week is a great idea if you use your computer online on a regular basis. You’ll want to be sure you’ve updated just before you scan. Also, keep in mind that a scan can sometimes take several hours, so setting your machine up to scan overnight may be a good idea.
4) Secure your hardware
If you have a wireless network or you regularly allow individuals to plug a USB stick into your computer, you could be opening yourself to serious problems. USB sticks can carry malware that allows hackers to access your machine. Because most computers are set to auto launch USB sticks and other plug and play hardware, those problem programs could automatically enter your computer. Changing those settings is essential to your safety.
Additionally, wireless networks can present some problems. Make certain that you set up a password, and use an encryption program if you can to prevent folks from taking advantage of your router.
5) Surf carefully
Keep in mind that not all websites are safe. In fact, some are absolutely of utmost concern. File sharing sites are perhaps some of the most concerning. Anytime you’re sharing your music, videos, or other files with folks online or you’re downloading their stuff, you put your computer at risk (even if you have a good security software suite).
Additionally, visiting websites of questionable quality could lead to hacker-related problems. From sites that might seem to offer shady goods and services to those that seem benign (like free ringtones or screensavers), visiting sites you’re unsure about is just never a good idea.
6) Avoid ads at all costs
Whether they come in the form of a traditional popup ad or they look more like a Windows system notification, ads are one tool hackers often use to gain access to your system. Do not click on the ads, as a simple click could install software that would allow individuals to exploit security flaws on your computer.
7) Remove unknown emails
If you’re not sure about the sender or the source of the email, it’s best to avoid opening. Just delete it entirely. If you use an email program with a preview screen, it may also be a good idea to disable that function to ensure your computer’s security.
There are many ways to keep hackers from gaining access to your system. Following these seven steps and remaining vigilant about your system’s security is the best way to avoid serious problems in the future.