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Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Computer from Hackers
Learn how to protect your computer.
Because computer use has become an integral part of modern-day living, IT security has naturally developed into one of the foremost worries we have in everyday life. Therefore, it's only natural for IT specialists to create practical methods that the average user can follow in order to protect his or her machine from the ravages of the information superhighway. At any rate, below are the top ten steps you can take to help safeguard your computer from digital destruction:
1. Windows Updates: Let's face it; the many different iterations of the world's best-selling OS have all been targeted by hackers so often that it's become a given to provide continuous daily, weekly, or monthly updates to your Windows-based computer. It's important for you to keep your OS up to speed in order to minimize the possibility of having worms or viruses compromise your system.
2. Software Updates: As with the above example, it's important for you to get the latest fixes or versions of your favorite applications in order to never let hackers find the opportunity to invade your virtual turf. Make sure that your web browsers and other web-based programs are given good upgrades or patches.
3. Anti-Virus Software: Running your machine without an anti-virus software—especially if it's regularly connected to the Internet—is downright suicidal in these modern, computer-virus-ridden times. Get one as soon as you can, and always confirm if its virus definitions are regularly updated. There are many wonderful anti-virus suites available, and AVG is among the best of them because it's both effective and free.
4. Anti-Spyware Software: Spyware remains to be a continuous threat to computer users everywhere, even though it's not as nightmarishly horrid as the days of Bonzi Buddy and CoolWebSearch. Thanks to anti-spyware luminaries like Ad-Aware, the formerly crippling spyware contagion had dwindled down throughout the years.
5. Switch to Macintosh: Even though the Mac OS X has been listed in this very website as one of the least secure operating systems out there in terms of vulnerability volume, this fact only came about because fewer hackers bother to invade this platform in the first place. Otherwise, the Mac is as safe as can be. Therefore, even though no computer is foolproof against malware, the Macintosh gets a pass for the simple fact that it's not as commonly targeted as, say, Windows-based computers.
6. Hacker-Controlled Websites: Common sense dictates that you should avoid going to bad neighborhoods, especially if you carry a lot of valuables. The same could be said in the wild, wild world of the worldwide web. Avoid getting snared by dubious sites dedicated to porn, free downloads, online games, and so on; this way, there are less chances for you to be hacked.
7. Firewall: If you don't have a third-party firewall like ZoneAlarm Pro installed, then it's highly recommended for you to activate your Windows firewall (available on all Windows versions from XP and up). Firewalls help filter your traffic, and there are some products that even filter both incoming and outgoing data streams.
8. Spam Email: Unsolicited messages should never be opened, and that goes double for unsolicited messages with file attachments. Fortunately, web-based email sites like Gmail have an extra layer of protection integrated in them (though it's still not recommended for you to overly rely on them like Sarah Palin did with her hijacked webmail). When in doubt, just delete the message.
9. Data Backup: If you have critical data, work-related documents, or personal files, then you must back them up as often as possible, because you never know what will happen to your computer. From viruses to system crashes, these sensitive bits of information can be wiped clean from your hard drive in the blink of an eye, so it's best to always have a backup at hand.
10. Password Policies: The passwords you pick could mean the difference between a breached computer and a safe computer. At any rate, the most common recommendations when it comes to picking a password includes not using the same password on every one of your accounts, using combinations of letters and numbers, and making sure that your password is as arcane as possible without necessarily making it too difficult for you to remember it.
Never give out your password to anyone.