Five Tips For Safe Computer Use
With the exponential growth of social networking and the risks that arise from living one's life online, it's important for every web user to take steps to minimize those risks.
Panda Security recommends that users take this opportunity to adopt the following habits to keep their computers safe from malware and other threats:
1. Use an Anti-virus: Despite growing awareness of today's Web-borne threats, many people still don't use even a basic antivirus solution on their computers, leaving themselves vulnerable to infection, data loss, and identity theft. If you already have an anti-virus, remember that it's equally important to keep it updated so your computer stays protected from the latest threats.
2. Update Your Computer: It's easy to ignore those pop-up notifications asking you to update your operating system and applications, but those patches and security fixes are vital to eliminating vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals. Restarting the computer takes a lot less time than eliminating a malicious Trojan or rootkit.
3. Routinely Scan your System and Connected Devices: Today's threats can be here today and gone tomorrow, only to be replaced by some other epidemic. So it only makes sense to scan your computer daily -- and don't forget to scan all those other storage-enabled devices -- like USB drives -- that you connect to your computer … they're all capable of spreading infections. Most anti-malware products have a way to set up a daily scan that runs automatically, so take five minutes to set it up. You won't regret it.
4. Strengthen and Change Passwords: Even amateur cyber criminals can gain access to private account information if they can persuade you to hand over your password. If you're not sure a site or email is genuine, don't hand over your password! Make a phone call to check out the request. Maximize password security by combining upper/lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid expected combinations like birthdays and addresses, and change passwords every three months.
5. Securing your business interests: If you are a business owner, the risks of not keeping your computers protected are substantial and can result in lost revenues as well as minimize employee productivity. Secure business networks and sensitive data by investing in solutions that protect all threat vectors: endpoints, e-mail and the Web. Also remember that sources of computer infections are changing rapidly, and security practices have to be adjusted appropriately; Panda Security's recent Social Media Risk Index survey found that 33 percent of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have been infected by malware propagated via social networks. The report provides many more tips for keeping your business secure.
"Cyber security is something everyone should be thinking about whenever they log on to email or fire up their browser," said Sean-Paul Correll, threat researcher for PandaLabs, the malware analysis and detection laboratory for Panda Security. "Hackers and other cyber criminals are constantly coming up with new ways to exploit vulnerabilities, fool users, and steal data, so Cyber Security Awareness Month is the ideal time to revisit our own security awareness and take the necessary steps to stay safe online."