The internet can be a scary place, with hackers and viruses, and data breaches in the news all the time. But in reality, it doesn’t have to be scary.

Cute Kitten

There are plenty of cute cat pictures…

Cute otter

Or maybe you prefer cute otters.

Now that we’ve had our daily dose of “Awww!” let’s get back to how you can keep your computer running properly.

  1. Keep your computer up to date. An out of date computer is an easy target. Microsoft and Apple push regular operating system updates that include security fixes – you should install those as soon as you can. The same goes for the apps you use on a regular basis. Keep them up to date! If you find out that an app you are using isn’t being updated regularly, or has been abandoned altogether, it’s time to find a replacement.
  2. Use an anti-virus program. They aren’t all created equal, but any protection is better than none. Personally Windows Defender (Security Essentials for Windows 7) should be enough. If you prefer to use a third-party option I recommend Bitdefender Free (their paid version is also fantastic).
  3. Don’t turn off UAC. It can be annoying, sure, but it’s there for a reason. If it’s popping up then something is trying to make changes to your computer, and you should know if that’s happening.
  4. Encrypt your hard drive(s). Windows 10 and MacOS both have encryption capabilities built in, but turned off by default. Turn it on. This will make it so that if someone gets access to your data, it’s completely useless to them.
  5. Keep your browser up to date. Following up on point 1, it’s worth saying again, keep EVERYTHING up to date. With so many apps moving to the cloud (aka online) more of your time is spent in your browser than not, so keep it up to date.
  6. Don’t steal stuff. It’s illegal, don’t do it. It’s also one of the most common methods of spreading malware.
  7. Use a password manager. You shouldn’t re-use passwords, but that isn’t easy when you have so many online accounts. Use a password manager, and let it generate strong passwords for you. Dashlane, LastPass, and 1Password are all good options.
  8. Stop using IE. Use Chrome or Firefox (preferably Firefox, for privacy reasons).
    1. Install uBlock Origin: ChromeFirefox
    2. Then install HTTP Everywhere

Following these 8 simple steps are the first steps to keeping your computer safe. If you need help with them, or want more information, let me know! I’m happy to help.