How to Improve your Risk-Computer Security
Scammers, hackers, and identity thieves are looking to steal your personal information – and your money. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself, like keeping your computer software up-to-date and giving out your personal information only when you have a good reason.
- Use Security Software That Updates Automatically
- Treat Your Personal Information Like Cash
- Check Out Companies to Find Out Who You’re Really Dealing With
- Give Personal Information Over Encrypted Websites Only
- Protect Your Passwords
- Back Up Your Files
Use Security Software That Updates Automatically
The bad guys constantly develop new ways to attack your computer, so your computer security software must be up-to-date to protect against the latest threats. Most computer security software can update automatically; set yours to do so. You can find free security software from well-known companies. Also, set your operating system and web browser to update automatically.
If you let your operating system, web browser, or security software get out-of-date, criminals could gain unauthorized access and install malware onto your computer and use it to covertly access other computers, send spam, or spy on your online activities. There are steps you can take to detect and get rid of malware.
Don’t buy security software in response to unexpected pop-up messages or emails, especially messages that claim to have scanned your computer and found malware. Scammers send messages like these to try to get you to buy worthless software, or worse, to gain access to your computer.
Treat Your Personal Information Like Cash
Don’t hand it out to just anyone. Your Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank and utility account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name. So every time you are asked for your personal information, whether in a web form, email, text, or a phone message, think about whether you can really trust the request. In an effort to steal your information, scammers will do everything they can to appear trustworthy. Learn more about scammers who phish for your personal information.
Check Out Companies-Find Out Who You’re Really Dealing With
When you’re online, a little research can save you a lot of money. If you see an ad or an offer that looks good to you, take a moment to check out the company behind it. Type the company or product name into your favorite search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” If you find bad reviews, you’ll have to decide if the offer is worth the risk. If you can’t find contact information for the company, take your business elsewhere.
Don’t assume that an ad you see on a reputable site is trustworthy. The fact that a site features an ad for another site doesn’t mean that it endorses the advertised site, or is even familiar with it.
Share Personal Information with HTTPS Encrypted Websites Only
If you’re shopping or banking online, stick to sites that use encryption to protect your information as it travels from your computer to their server. To determine if a website is encrypted, look for HTTPS at the beginning of the web address (the “S” is for secure).
Some websites use encryption only on the sign-in page, but if any part of your session isn’t encrypted, the entire account could be vulnerable. Look for HTTPS on every page of the site you’re on, not just where you sign in.
Protect Your Passwords
Here are a few principles for creating stronger passwords and keeping them safe:
- The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack. Use at least 10 characters; 12 is ideal for most home users.
- Mix letters, numbers, and special characters. Try to be unpredictable–don’t use your name, birth date, or common words.
- Don’t use the same password for many accounts. If it’s stolen from you or companies you do business, it can be used to access those accounts.
- Don’t share passwords on the phone, in texts or by email. Legitimate companies will not send you messages asking for your password. If you get such a message, it’s probably a scam.
- Keep your passwords in a secure place, out of plain sight or use password managers.
- Using a long pass-phrase or two factor authentication is commonly accepted as strong methods of protection.
Back Up Your Files
No system is completely secure. Copy important files onto a removable disc or an external hard drive, and store it in a safe place. Using secure online storage for backups is readily available now days. If your computer is compromised, you’ll still have access to your files.
Computer Security Services
Washington State Investigators understands computer security. While home and business security includes security guards, video surveillance, alarm systems, bio metrics, key pad door locks and gated entrances, advancements in Information Technology created a new breed of bad guys who want nothing more than to steal your information. This includes collecting email addresses and tracking online browsing habits for marketing purposes. Hacking large corporation databases to steal user names and passwords to access personal and financial accounts. Of course, we haven’t left out the thousands of D-DOS, bot net, phishing scams, spam, virus, malware and ransomware attacks attempted on a daily basis.
If you believe you are being electronically harassed or that malicious activity is happening to one or more of your devices, we recommend searching or googling for a computer forensic technician in your area who will be able to physically inspect each device you believe to be compromised. If there is monitoring software installed on your device, you can contact local law enforcement, file a report and give them the evidence found by the computer forensic technician.
Washington State Investigators is committed to providing you with professional services, a great customer service experience and deliver investigative solutions that get results.