When the World Wide Web’s gleam began to fade – sometime in the mid-to-late 1990s – computer users began to see the downside to networking, and they didn’t like what they saw. Now it’s a must to secure your computer from hackers.
Every email address was inundated with spam, and computer viruses wreaked havoc on corporate networks. Infiltrating your computer, stealing personal information, tricking you into disclosing private data, and then using that data to steal and extort everything from your business secrets and bank account to your identity emerged as a frightening criminal feature.
Despite this, most companies, big and small, use the internet to keep track of their finances, order and manage inventory, run marketing and public relations campaigns, communicate with consumers, use social media, and perform other vital tasks. Despite this, we hear of major data breaches at even the most prestigious firms on a regular basis.
Small companies are responsible for protecting company property and preventing the theft of customer information. Here are some measures you can take to protect the computer integrity of your business.
12 Tips To Secure Your Computer From Hackers
- Make use of a firewall.
Firewalls, software that creates a buffer between your information and the outside world, are integrated into the two main computer operating systems. Firewalls protect your company’s network from unauthorised access and notify you of any intrusion attempts.
Before you go online with a new computer (or the computer you already use), make sure the firewall is turned on. Depending on your broadband router, which also has a built-in firewall that protects your network, you can buy a hardware firewall from companies including Cisco, Sophos, or Fortinet. You can buy an additional business networking firewall if you have a larger company.
- Download and instal antivirus software.
Viruses, keyloggers, and Trojan horses are all over the internet. Antivirus software like Bitdefender, Panda Cloud Antivirus, Malwarebytes, and Avast protects your device from malicious code or software that might damage your operating system. Viruses have a variety of effects, some of which are obvious: They can cause your computer to slow down or delete important files.
Antivirus software protects your device by detecting real-time threats and ensuring the safety of your files. Some sophisticated antivirus systems provide automatic updates, which help to secure your computer from new viruses that appear every day. Don’t forget to use the antivirus software once you’ve installed it. To keep your machine virus-free, run or schedule daily virus scans.
- Set up an anti-spyware programme.
Spyware is a form of software that tracks and collects personal and organisational data invisibly. It is designed to be difficult to identify and delete, and it often displays intrusive advertisements or search results that guide you to specific websites.
To gain access to passwords and other financial information, some spyware records every keystroke. Anti-spyware focuses solely on this form of annoyance, but it is also included in big antivirus packages such as Webroot, McAfee, and Norton. Anti-spyware software protects you in real time by checking all incoming data and blocking attacks.
- Use passwords that are difficult to guess.
The most effective way to avoid malicious intrusions into your computer network is to use protected passwords. A hacker would have a harder time breaking into your system if your passwords are safe.
More stable also entails more time and complexity: Use a password of at least eight characters that includes a mix of numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and computer symbols. Hackers have a toolkit that allows them to crack fast, simple passwords in minutes.
Use no recognisable words or combinations that could be linked to you, such as birthdays or other personal details. Also, don’t reuse passwords; if you have a lot of them to recall, use a password manager like Dashlane, Sticky Password, LastPass, or Password Boss.
- Make sure your operating system, software, and browser are all up to date.
Always keep the operating systems up to date by installing new updates. Secure your computer by performing the majority of updates available that provide security patches that prevent hackers from gaining access to and manipulating your information.
It’s the same for your favourite apps. Web browsers are becoming more sophisticated, particularly in terms of privacy and protection. In addition to downloading all new updates, make sure to refresh your browser’s security settings. You may use your browser, for example, to prevent websites from monitoring your movements, thus increasing your online privacy.
- Don’t pay attention to spam.
Always be wary of emails from unknown senders, and never click on links or open attachments in them. Spam-catchers have improved in recent years and are now capable of catching even the most egregious spam. However, phishing emails that imitate your colleagues, associates, and trusted companies such as your bank have proliferated, so be on the lookout for something that appears or sounds phishy.
- Make a backup of your machine.
You need to go back to B-school if your company isn’t already backing up your hard drive. Backing up your data is essential in the event that tragedy strikes and hackers gain access to your device and destroy it.
Always ensure that you can recover as soon as possible if your data is breached or lost. Start with the built-in backup utilities on the Mac (Time Machine) and Windows (File History). Buying an external backup hard drive from a company like Western Digital, Seagate, or CalDigit ensures that these utilities can work properly.
- Turn it off.
Many companies, especially those that run a web server, are always “all systems go.” Switch off your computer overnight or for long periods of time when you are not working if you are not running a complex internet-based company. Your machine would be more visible and available to hackers if it is still on. Shutting down your computer removes any link a hacker might have made with your network and prevents any potential harm.
- Take advantage of virtualization.
Not everybody needs to go this path, but if you visit shady websites often, you can expect to be inundated with spyware and viruses. Although the best way to avoid browser-based intrusions is to avoid visiting dangerous websites, virtualization allows you to run your browser in a separate virtual environment, such as Parallels or VMware Fusion, that runs independently of your operating system.
- Keep your network secure.
If you’ve just purchased a new router, it’s likely that it comes with no security settings. Always use a safe, encrypted setup to log in to the router and set a password. This keeps intruders out of your network and keeps them from playing with your settings.
- Authentication with two factors is recommended.
Passwords are the first line of defence against computer hackers, but adding a second layer of protection increases security. Two-factor authentication, which allows you to type in a numerical code in addition to your password when signing in, is available from major online companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft. This makes your account more impenetrable to the outside world.
- Encrypt your data.
Even if your data is stolen or your internet connection is monitored, encryption will prevent hackers from accessing any of that information. You can use BitLocker or FileVault to encrypt your Windows or macOS hard drive, encrypt any USB flash drive that contains confidential information, and use a VPN to encrypt your web traffic. Just shop on encrypted websites, which can be identified by the “https” in the address bar and a closed padlock icon.
We wouldn’t have to take as many steps to lock down and harden our computer networks if internet hackers used their artistic talents to make a decent living. Until that time comes – when pigs can fly and snowballs can withstand hellfire – a combination of hardware and software protections, as well as best computing practises, can keep you safe from online predators.