Secure Your Computer & Network

There are some simple steps that you can take to secure your information and drastically reduce your risk of falling victim to online threats. Most households now run networks of devices linked to the Internet, including computers, laptops, gaming devices, TVs, tablets, and smartphones that access wireless networks. To protect your home network and your family, you need to have the right tools in place and confidence that family members can use the Internet safely and securely.

We recommend using all the following security tools to help protect your personal information anytime you are online. A properly protected computer provides for a safer online experience.

Anti-Virus Protection
Make sure your computer has an anti-virus protection program that detects and removes viruses. Software from major providers will protect you from a wide variety of threats, and also will provide customer service in case you have questions. Be sure to always keep your anti-virus program updated.

Anti-Malware protection
Anti-malware software has become just as popular as Anti-Virus software. Spyware, viruses, worms and trojans are all malicious programs that are loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and commonly referred to as malware. Whether the goal of these programs is to capture or destroy information, to attack other computers or to swamp your computer with advertising, you don’t want them. Scammers are sneaky as they will disguise malware as an email from a friend or useful website.

Viruses and worms spread by infecting computers and then replicating. Spyware and trojans disguise themselves as a legitimate application and embed themselves into your computer, to monitor your activity, collect information and deliver it back to online criminals. All are serious threats to the security of your computer.

Firewall
A firewall refers to any of a number of security services that prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to a computer, or that monitor transfers of information to and from the computer. Firewalls help keep hackers from using your computer to send out your personal information without your permission. While anti-virus software scans incoming email and files, a firewall is like a guard, watching for attempts to access your system and blocking communications with sources you don’t permit. Your operating system and/or security software likely comes with a pre-installed firewall, but make sure you turn on these features.

Operating System and Software Updates
Install software updates, sometimes referred to as patches or service packs that are made available for your computer. These updates can address security and performance issues. Programs such as Java, Flash and web browsers, and Operating Systems, such as your Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems, need to be updated often.

Activate a Pop-up Blocker
Install and activate a pop-up blocking tool with your web browser. Pop-ups can be more than an annoyance, frequently they contain links to sites that contain malware. We recommended closing any pop-up ads immediately.

Browsing the web safely
When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information.

Change the name of your home router
The default ID – called a “Service Set IDentifier” (SSID) is assigned by the manufacturer. Change your router to a name that is unique to you and won’t be easily guessed by others.

Change the pre-set password on your router
When creating a new password, make sure it is long and strong, using a mix of numbers, letters and symbols.

Protect all devices that connect to the Internet
Along with computers, smartphones, gaming systems and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.

Plug & scan
USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

Back it up
One of the most basic, yet often overlooked, data protection tips is backing up your data. Basically, this creates a duplicate copy of your data so that if a device is lost, stolen, or compromised, you don’t also lose your important information. It’s best to create a backup on a different device, such as an external hard drive, so that you can easily recover your information when the original device becomes compromised. Protect your valuable documents by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.

Recycle your old hardware properly
Make old computers’ hard-drives unreadable. After you back up your data and transfer the files elsewhere, you should sanitize by disk shredding, magnetically cleaning the disk, or using software to wipe the disk clean. Destroy old computer disks and backup tapes,