Easy Security Tips for All Computer Users
- Install and maintain up-to-date anti-virus/spyware software. Malicious programs (malware) like spyware and viruses can destroy or disburse personal information and negatively affect computer performance. There is a variety of free anti-virus and anti-spyware software available on the web.
- Install and configure a firewall on your computer. Firewalls prevent unauthorized computers from connecting to you. Windows XP, Vista and 7 and all versions of Mac OS X have a built-in firewall– make sure it is turned on. There are also paid firewalls available online.
- Use strong, unique, secure passwords for all computer accounts (email, banking, etc.). A strong password is not a word that could be found in the dictionary and contains upper and lower case characters, numbers and symbols. A secure password is not shared with anyone or written down. A unique password is not used for more than one account.
- Do not open unknown files attached to emails or install or run unknown programs. These could contain malware.
- Keep all programs up-to-date. Configure your computer to automatically install security updates, so that you don’t have to remember to do it. Updates fix exploits that hackers could use to take control of your computer.
- Turn off your computer when it’s not in use. This saves energy too!
- Periodically back up important files on an external drive. If your computer is attacked, having backups of important files can be a lifesaver.
- If you have a wireless network, make sure it is secured with a password. Follow the secure password guidelines, and be sure that the network name is set to be hidden – this greatly decreases the chances of casual intrusions. For information on how to configure your network, check with your internet service provider.
- Never use email to send personal information. Email is not a secure medium – assume that a malicious party can read whatever you write. Doing so helps avoid falling prey to “phishers,” people who send out fraudulent emails looking for personal information – they often begin by claiming that you’ve won something.
For more information:
Cyber Security Tips
Safeguarding your Home Network
CSIS Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency
DHS Office of Cybersecurity and Communications
National Security Council – Cybersecurity
U.S. Cyber Command