Your computer is your most important asset and any downtime is time and money. The Internet is not a friendly place today but pretty hostile. There are risks to you and your computer that are lurking in the background that you may not be aware of. There are bots today that have automated a lot of the work of hackers so you are not safe. The hackers will find the vulnerabilities and exploit them. But, you can take some common-sense precautions to help protect yourself from all the risks of being online today.
Think of your house for a moment. Would you leave your doors and windows unlocked? Of course not! You have layers of security setup in your homes such as a monitoring system, a house alarm, and locked doors and windows. All these protections you do for your home.
Why not do them for your computer too? If you leave your computer open to anyone, you are going to pay the price. There are a few precautions you can take to make it harder for your computer to be hacked.
Defense-in-depth is a term used in cybersecurity that takes a layered approach to security. The layers you need to be concerned with about with your computer are as follows:
- Physical (physical security of your computer to keep prying eyes out)
- Data (files on your machine)
- Apps (social media apps, etc)
- Host (computer)
- Perimeter (router connection to the outside world)
A layered approach to security is always the best practice in lowering your risk to theft.
Secure your logins
The first precaution you can take is to enable two-factor authentication on your operating system Both Macs and PCs allow you to enable two-factor authentication. This enables you to be able to send a code to an app, email, or text message as a second step to log in. Why would you do this? It is a big hassle. Today, passwords can be hacked at an alarming rate so your password is not secure. Two-factor authentication will lower your risk of being hacked.
Also, you need to do the same thing for your apps – Facebook, Twitter, etc. Any vulnerability in your apps will be exercised by hackers so lower your risk.
Encrypt your data
If you have a mac, pc, or Linux device, you can have your hard drive encrypted. Operating systems use hard drives efficiently so even if you delete a file a sophisticated hacker can read your data. Encrypting your hard drive lowers your risk of that happening.
In Windows, under Device Encryption, you will click Turn on.
In Mac OS, under System Preferences, Security & Privacy, click on turn on File Vault.
Encrypt your connections
If you have Wifi or even a physical connection to your wireless router, you need to encrypt your connections. You need to enable wireless security and also change the admin password on your wireless router. Doing this will encrypt your wireless connections. But, once your data hits the wireless and it is now unencrypted to the Internet.
It is recommended that you also use a virtual private network (VPN) software to encrypt your communications end-to-end from your computer to the Internet and back. Both of these will lower your risk of being hacked.
Again, any time you send plain data over the network you risk being hacked!
Use a password manager
A good password manager will encrypt and store all of your logins. Most password managers have plugins in all browsers so you can take the passwords with you across devices. Today, we have a log-in for lots of different sites and you should have different passwords for each to keep your risk low. But, you and I know that it is impossible to remember all those passwords! So, your best bet is to use a password manager.
A virus is a computer program that attaches itself to other programs. When executed, the virus replicates itself to other programs on your computer. Viruses can create havoc on your computer including stealing your personal information. You need to use an antivirus program on your computer. Microsoft Windows uses something called Windows Defender. It is a pretty good antivirus for most needs today.
Your Mac does not have a standard antivirus program. But, it does a lot to prevent viruses from infecting your computer by digitally signing each app that runs on a Mac. If it is not digitally signed, your Mac will force you to jump through hoops to get it to run. As a precaution, it does not hurt to get an antivirus program for your Mac in case.
Enable your firewall
A firewall on your computer closes the open ports and protects your computer from external hacks. It is like putting locks on all your doors and windows. Any open door or window is like an open port on your computer and needs to be closed. Both Windows and Mac have a firewall. You need to be sure that it is enabled.
Use malware protection
Malware is malicious software that causes damage to your computer. Hackers find creative ways to install malware onto your computer through images, email links, malicious browser links, or through stealing your credentials and installing malware onto your computer. To lower your risk you need to consider installing a malware remover onto your computer to catch the software the antivirus may miss. It is another layer of protection to lower your risk.
Install updates when prompted by your OS
One of the leading causes of intrusions today is the lack of operating system updates. You must make sure to allow Windows or your Mac to update your machines when requested. They are sending you quick fixes to plug the security vulnerability from hackers.
Mac Software Update
Unfortunately, the Internet is a hostile place to work and play today and you must lower your risks of being hacked as we discussed in this post.
Please leave me comments below and ask any questions you may have. Have a great day!