You probably hadn’t even thrown away the wrapping paper and upgraded from pajamas to pants before you were knee-deep in your new computer (probably a laptop of one brand or another), figuring out its capabilities, playing with its new programs and so on.
But before you get too far, you need to make sure your favorite new toy is protected. Here’s how.
- Download and Update Antivirus Programs: They aren’t sexy, but antivirus programs are essential to protecting computers and laptops. Attackers are constantly evolving their techniques for exploiting the newest devices, so you need a program that keeps up with them. If your new system doesn’t come with one – it probably does – download one immediately. And keep it updated.
- Always Update Applications and Software: Attackers thrive on loopholes in commonly used programs like Adobe, Flash and Java – not to mention all web browsers and operating systems – so whenever new updates for the programs that run on your computer become available, download them right away. These updates include the latest security patches that will keep those programs from being exploited.
- Backup Sensitive Data: Your computer will inevitably be a repository for sensitive information but you need to limit this. Backup and clear sensitive information from your system on a regular basis. It’s more likely than not that eventually your system will be hacked and you don’t want that information to be stolen or lost if your system is crashed.
- Watch What You Download: The best antivirus systems and firewalls may not save you if you download a malicious program. Don’t download email attachments from anyone you don’t know, and be wary of doing the same in forwarded email attachments that originate from people you don’t know – your friends may have unwittingly been passing along malicious code from spammers.
- Practice Smart Browsing: Always use complicated passwords for any site you log into online – not simple words, but passphrases that incorporate non-alphanumerical characters. Failing to do so can open the door for hackers to access your email, social media and online banking accounts. And be wary of public WiFi networks. They are insecure and attackers prey on their vulnerabilities to monitor the activity of users to steal their passwords and other sensitive data.