The Internet is a tool that most people use on a regular, if not daily, basis. It has made working, playing and communicating much more convenient and efficient. It has also made it much easier for bad guys to target and strike individuals. Seeking personal data that can lead to identity theft, these criminals manage to bilk millions of dollars out of unsuspecting victims every year.
So, how can computer users protect themselves while they use the Internet to their own advantage? Here are the essentials of Internet security anyone with a computer should be aware of:
- Operating system updates – Operating systems, such as Microsoft’s Windows, are designed to serve as the platform for computing and file storage. They also, unfortunately, offer the bad guys a host of vulnerabilities they can slip past to plant malware or make straight hacks into a machine. When this happens, data and personal information can be captured. Keeping operating systems updated can prevent problems before they happen. Companies like Microsoft do work hard to close any backdoors hackers happen to find.
- Security software – Having a software package designed to provide Internet security and antiviral protection downloaded on a machine is a must. Antivirus and security software products are created especially to help computer owners lock down their machines to keep the bad guys out. These products provide firewalls, scanners and other tools that stop viruses and malware from getting onto machines in the first place. Such products are also updated constantly to ensure the latest antiviral protections. There are a host of internet security products that can offer consumers the protections they need to get online and stay safe at the same time.
- Awareness – Education is a critical component in online security. The more aware computer users are about the potential hazards, the better. For example, learning to resist clicking on direct links sent in emails can protect users against bogus websites that are designed to capture personal information. Keeping up with news about the latest viral threats can also prove quite useful in protecting consumers against potential threats.
Internet security is a big issue these days. With cybercriminals constantly on the prowl for their next target, learning to take steps to protect machines and the data they contain is simply essential. The more vigilant computer users are, the less likely it is they will be victimized.
- The University of California, Berkeley Security Resource Center
- Springfield Technical Community College, Internet Safety and Security for College Students (PDF)
- Stanford Cybersecurity Library
- Indiana University, Best practices for computer security
- Lexology, Best practices for internet security
- NC State University, Internet Browsing Best Practices