Tips to Ensure Computer Security You’ll Actually Find Useful

Everyone talks about computer security i.e being secure online but how many of us actually practice the effective security tips? Then when hackers or viruses attack, we look around to attach blame. Well, prevention is better than cure, so it pays in the long run to secure your system in advance.

Tip #1: Set up user accounts
One computer, many users, is a security disaster waiting to happen. Your files and data are your personal, private content and should be protected accordingly. To prevent other users from seeing or accessing your data, set up user accounts on your PC. A user account shows an individual’s specific data and not what is present on the entire system. It also specifies privileges on shared data, such as deleting/editing operations and what software can be installed on the machine.

This feature is especially useful when kids and adults use the same machine. What if your child accesses your important work files and deletes them by mistake? With a separate user account, he/she can only view certain files and cannot modify or delete them. Even if you are the sole user of the PC, set up a guest account, in case someone else needs to use the computer.

Tip #2: Secure your wireless network
With wired Internet access, there’s little risk of someone encroaching on your network. But wireless networks do have holes in their security, so as the owner of the network, you need to be vigilant. Setting up password-protected network access is the first step. You need to assign a network name and password to your Wi-Fi network. Use the latest wireless encryption methods like WPA or WPA2. Do not reveal your network password to others.

Tip #3: Arm your computer with an anti-virus program
The best defense is a good offense. One of the most basic computer security guidelines is installing an anti-virus software. Installing security programs like an anti-virus, keeps your computer round-the-clock safe against viruses, malware, Trojan worms etc. and other malicious programs. For better protection, try to install complete security suites, that provide Internet security and firewalls along with anti-virus software.

Tip #4: Be regular in updates and virus scans
Just installing an anti-virus program will not protect your PC. You need to keep it up-to-date with regular virus signature and threat updates. New viruses and malware programs emerge online each day. Another bad trait of viruses is that they keep trying to find new ways to enter an unsuspecting computer. The only way to counter such attacks is to update your security programs on a regular basis. You should also scan your computer regularly for dangerous programs. Schedule periodic scans, once-a-month scans, scanning new added devices and automatic full system scans, to ensure your PC is threat-free.

Tip #5: Install parental control software for kid-friendly computer usage
Keeping your computer secure definitely involves keeping your kids safe from cyber enemies. Aside from explicit and adult content, you need to filter and monitor what your kid is up to online. Social networking sites in particular, are fun online places to socialize but they are also preying grounds for the depraved. Parental control software allows you to set filters and block sites as well as receive warnings when suspicious activity is taking place online.

Tip #6: Block unwanted search results
You can even change your web browser’s security settings to block certain sites and filter out objectionable content. Such settings are not as powerful as parental control software but it helps to be extra secure. You can find this feature in the Tools option of most browsers. With search engines like Google, you can fiddle with search preferences settings.

Tip #7: Download wisely
Whether it is a picture, an MP3 or a game, downloaded files are an excellent way for malicious software to enter your computer. Once you download and install or use a file, there’s no telling what it will do to your machine. So be extra careful when it comes to downloading. Download files from trusted and preferably certified sites. Sites offering free, cracked versions of software programs are especially dangerous, as some cracks can contain malware.

When a download begins, you are asked to save the file before the downloading actually starts. Read the file name and its extension carefully, to ensure what you want is being downloaded. While installing a program, read the license agreement and make sure, only the program you want is being installed. Sometimes spyware and hidden programs are bundled into the installer program, and are installed secretly along with your software. Scan your PC for threats after downloading files from the Internet.

Tip #8: Be careful with emails
Getting and sending emails is easy, going through your inbox for mail, that is actually relevant, is not. Email inboxes are storehouses of junk mail, spam, advertisements, forwards, mail and many times, a hidden threat. You can keep your inbox sorted and clutter-free by using spam blockers and filters. Threat-wise, try to avoid opening emails from senders or addresses you don’t know.

A key sign of a malicious email is poor language. Weird, nonsensical text or poor grammar or even bogus-seeming email addresses are some signs of a harmful email. Be especially wary of email attachments. Check the file extension. Files with .exe, .pif, .com,.bin or .bat extensions, can be malicious. If you do not know the sender of the email, do not open or download such files, just delete the mail. Instead of opening the attachment from the mail itself, save the file, let it download and scan it, before opening it.

Tip #9: Secure your data with backups
Sometimes no matter what steps you take, you lose data. Part of being secure is having a fail-safe or backup to fall back on, in case something bad happens. So in case a virus has attacked your files or data is accidentally deleted, your data is never really lost, if you have a backup of it. Backup your data regularly, either by storing it on physical devices like CDs or by backing it up on a network. Set a system restore point for your PC, so in the event of a system crash, you can restore your PC to a particular working state with your data intact.

Tip #10: Be smart with your passwords
Passwords are supposed to keep your individual settings and data safe, so you need to keep their true value or the actual password safe. This means, do not write down all your passwords on a piece of paper and keep it lying around. With numerous passwords, it’s understandable that remembering them all is difficult. So you can write them down but the place where you store this info, should be secure. And once in a while, please change your passwords. If in case, they are revealed, updating the passwords can render all hacking attempts as naught. Another safety precaution is the “remember me” option in most secure sites. If multiple users access the same PC, do not select this option.

The above computer security tips are just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to securing your PC. For every good advancement in technology, cyber evil seems to get even more evil, so it pays to be vigilant in today’s cyberspace.

Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Not just the trend of buying goods and availing services online, but even the frauds associated with it are on rise. Technological advancement has given a major boost to e-commerce and other similar concepts, which revolve around computers and, more importantly, the Internet. The concept of online shopping is no more alien to anybody in the world.

Millions of people log onto shopping websites in order to make shopping a convenient affair. What they fail to understand though, is the fact that they are compromising on their security by not abiding by the rules that they need to follow. With so many cases of online frauds coming to light every other day, it is surprising to see people go on an online shopping spree without paying heed to their security.

Online Shopping Safety Tips

Online shopping fraud is a broad concept, which includes a range of activities, right from hidden charges and phishing to credit card scams and identity theft. Given below are some simple precautions that you can take to keep yourself safe.

Carry out your transactions from a secured PC: You need to make sure that the PC you are using for shopping online and related transactions is up-to-date with security measures, like anti-virus software and firewall. Being one of the most important advice as far as safe online shopping is concerned, this will help you keep those malicious programs out of your transactions.

Be well-versed with the website you use: You need to make sure that the website from which you are buying goods or availing services is authentic. Never go to random sites that feature in search engine results, or ones that you have never heard of before. Always go for popular websites, as the chances of you getting caught in any sort of web of deceit on such websites are negligent.

Never give away your personal information: You will have to provide some information while shopping online, however, you need to make sure that this is just the general information, like your name or contact number. Never give out confidential information, like your social security number, on online shopping websites. More importantly, never fill in any sort of information in pop-up windows, even if you trust the website. Maintaining privacy while shopping online is a must, as giving away confidential information can make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Go through the privacy policy of the company: A trusted website is bound to have its privacy policy covering all the points whereby the website would be legally bound to keep your personal details confidential and giving away the same to the third party would mean breach of contract with possible legal implications. If any website doesn’t have their privacy policy in place, it is better off to stay away from it.

Paying by credit card is wiser: Always resort to credit card for payment options. Though many of us prefer to use debit cards for shopping online, they don’t have all the security features that credit cards do. More importantly, if your debit card number gets stolen, it will give hackers total access to your account and result in even more difficult situations for you.

Before you order the product: You need to make sure that the transactions are secured and the shipping policy of the company is in the place. Cross checking the actual price of the product and the shipping charges with other companies can help you get the best deal. Make sure that there are no hidden costs in the shipping charges. You will have to take into consideration the actual price of the item as well as shipping charges, handling fees, and sales tax.

After you order the product: Never reply to confirmation mails which ask for your personal details. Make sure that you take the print outs of all the online transaction records, which you can eventually use as proof. Other than all your transactions with the company, it is wise to save the product description as well. Lastly, you will have to monitor the time required for shipping. It is very important to get well-versed with terms and conditions before you buy any product online.

If, by chance, you do end up having a bad experience, you can report the company to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the consumer protection agency in your area of jurisdiction. Considering that there are a number of phishing websites out there in the guise of shopping websites, it will take efforts from all of us to come together and make online shopping safe and secure.

Internet Safety Tips

My generation, which grew up with the rise of Internet in the 90s, got introduced to it at an age, when we were careful and mature enough to handle its impact. However, today, five-year olds start browsing the Internet and Google almost every single thing that comes to their monstrously curious mind. There was a time when you could control the rate at which your child got exposed to the real world, but that is sadly, no longer the case. Divulging personal information on the Internet can put a person’s life in jeopardy and therefore, you must provide guidelines to any novice who is accessing the cyber world for the first time.

Tips For Kids and Adults

Having the world at our fingertips in the form of Internet has its pros and cons. While you get access to an unlimited store of information, you also put your own privacy and data at risk. There are thousands of malicious computer viruses that can invade your computer system and steal your data, if you do not have an antivirus software program installed. Here are some safety tips for parents and children, that will protect your privacy and data.

Thou Shalt Not Share Personal Information
Do not share your name, address, social security number, phone number, and other such personal details on public forums on the Internet. You don’t know how this information will be used by third parties. Hence it is best that you withhold such information.

Thou Shalt Avoid Talking to Strangers
Children are advised to be suspicious of any strangers that they meet in chat rooms and social networking sites. Avoid talking to strangers and do not give out any personal details. You don’t know what the intentions of a person at the other end of the line are. Would you give out any personal information to a man whom you meet on the street? Similarly, avoid talking to strangers on the Internet.

Thou Shalt Avoid Sharing Pictures
Never share your pictures and home videos on any public forums or website on the Internet. These pictures can be used for nefarious purposes. So, do not share your personal photos or videos on any portal on the Internet. And if you do share them on sites like Facebook, make sure that your privacy settings are appropriately enabled.

Thou Shalt Not Share Financial Information
Do not divulge any financial information on the Internet like bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and other such information. Do not believe in any mails that you get, offering you a surprise lottery amount or any such financial reward. If you go ahead with such offers, you are bound to fall for some of the popular Internet scams. Please do not go ahead with any financial transaction on the Internet, before you are sure about the authenticity of the website.

Thou Shalt Avoid Sharing Login Name and Passwords
Under no circumstances should you share your passwords, related to your email accounts and online bank account transactions. Otherwise, if you do, there are chances that your account will get hacked, leading to dangerous consequences.

Thou Shalt Not Download Stuff Without Permission
Children are advised to avoid downloading any stuff on the Internet, without taking permission from their parents and elders. This is one of the prime rules that children should follow. These programs may contain malicious viruses which may crash your computer system entirely.

Thou Shalt Install Parental Control Filters
One of the important tips for parents is to install a parental control software, or change web browser settings, so that children are protected from obscene and pornographic material that is rampant on the Internet. This is very important for your child’s safety and mental health.

Thou Shalt Not Violate Copyrights
Do not download pirated music or movies via Internet. This will be considered to be a violation of copyrighted material for which you could be prosecuted. Your Internet service provider closely monitors illegal P2P downloads which can be reported to the authorities. So you are advised to be careful.

Thou Shalt Not Misuse Internet Resources
Do not take advantage of the access to personal information that social networking sites like Facebook provide you with. Hacking an email account is a punishable offense and do not indulge in such nefarious activities.

Thou Shalt Get an Antivirus Software Installed
It is very important that you safeguard your PC from the attack of malicious software that may get downloaded from the Internet. See to it that you get an antivirus software that has special Internet security features.

I recommend that you take these safety warnings quite seriously. People have suffered a lot of mental anguish and even financial loss, due to carelessness while using the Internet. If you follow some of these basic rules while using the Internet, it will certainly be a safe and enjoyable experience for you.

Business Security Tips

The alarming crime rate around the world has led to the emergence of a variety of business security solutions. Any kind of crime results in severe losses to any kind of business; big or small. Also, it is not only businesses that sell ‘goods’ that are at risk. Even businesses that sell ‘services’ can face a problem, namely data theft. Therefore, before investing in any security solution, it is important to remember that following the basics is of essence.

Basic Business Security and Loss Prevention
As mentioned before, starting with the basics can go a long way in preventing any kind of robbery or business related crime.

  • Any kind of business requires employees. Therefore, before hiring them, do ensure that you perform a thorough background check, so that you hire the right employees. Primarily identify their social security number, the status of their previous job and reasons for resignation, and any records of criminal activities. A background check is particularly necessary for employees applying to higher and sensitive positions, such as those related to finance and IT.
  • If you want your business to be safe, it is essential that you remain personally involved in it. You could also entrust two top-level employees for the same purpose, to monitor daily activities, and maintain records of all that has taken place during the day.
  • Ensure that all employees are aware of company policies, and are taught how to react in situations involving theft and robbery.
  • Keeping a backup of all data and record of inventories outside office premises is essential. In case of theft, you will know exactly what is missing, thereby making the recovery process quicker.
  • Maintaining a record of visitors will enable one to identify who exactly enters and leaves the premises. This is especially important in cases where there is no necessity for people, other than those belonging to the organization to enter.
  • Also, install an employee identification system. As such, in case of data security, it is easier to identify exactly which employee had used the required system or premise.
  • Limit the distribution of sensitive information that is crucial to your business only to those persons who are involved in its implementation. Be it a new business plan, or certain important financial details, avoid talking about it without cause, particularly in public areas.
  • Work with your Internet security team to provide adequate security to prevent users from going beyond your website and hacking into your network base.
  • Hire well-established security personnel, and install video surveillance camera systems such as CCTV systems to monitor all undergoing activities in the organization. Secure the organization further by installing biometric devices that identify physiological traits such as fingerprints or iris recognition.

By following these, you can secure your business from potential losses due to robbery.

Robbery Prevention for Retail Organizations
Apart from the above-mentioned factors, retail organizations require additional security methods to prevent any kind of losses.

  • Firstly, the exterior of the store should be well-protected. That means, avoid unnecessary bushes and hedges around your store. That way, you can identify the presence of suspicious persons lingering outside. It also helps the police to notice any case of unusual activity in the store without these hindrances. Also, for display, try to use shatterproof glass to avoid smash and grab incidents. Use padlocks to lock the store, and maintain the keys with yourself and trustworthy employees.
  • Inside the store, maintain vigilance by being attuned to the happenings in the store. You should be able to tell if anything is amiss. Imbibe similar qualities in employees.
  • Maintain minimum amounts in the cash register, and display those amounts, as it makes the store less vulnerable to robbers. Daily deposits in the bank are essential, especially in the case of large sums. While going to the bank, do not leave at the same time by the same route everyday, as it may aid a potential robber to recognize the pattern and carry out a planned robbery.
  • Make eye contact with every customer who enters the store. This warns the customer that he/she is recognizable, and will also help you identify undesirable traits, if any, about him/her.

A lot goes into creating a business and running it successfully. You would not want it to get wrecked because of overlooking basic security. Implement these tips, and be assured, that the chances of any such happenings will be minimal.