Basic Computer Security Tips

List of Secure Computing Tips

Tip 1 – You are a target to hackers

Don’t ever say “It won’t happen to me”.  We are all at risk and the stakes are high – to your personal and financial well-being.

Tip 2 – Keep software up to date

Installing software updates for your operating system and programs is critical. Always install the latest security updates for your devices:

Tip 3 – Avoid Phishing scams – beware of suspicious emails and & eye catching messages

Phishing scams are a constant threat – using various ploys, cyber-criminals will attempt to trick you into divulging personal information such as your login ID and password, banking or credit card information.

  • Phishing scams can be carried out by phone, text, or through social networking sites – but most commonly by email.
  • Be suspicious of any official-looking email message or phone call that asks for personal or financial information.

Tip 4 – Practice good password management

We all have too many passwords to manage – and it’s easy to take short-cuts, like reusing the same password. But ensure that you use strong passwords and change them periodically

Tip 5 –  Be careful what you click

Avoid visiting unknown websites or downloading software from un trusted sources.  These sites often host malware that will automatically, and often silently, compromise your computer.

If attachments or links in the email are unexpected or suspicious for any reason, don’t click on it.

Tip 6 – Never leave devices unattended

The physical security of your devices is just as important as their technical security. 

  • If you need to leave your laptop, phone, or tablet for any length of time – lock it up so no one else can use it. 
  • If you keep sensitive information on a flash drive or external hard drive, make sure to keep these locked as well. 
  • For desktop computers, shut-down the system when not in use – or lock your screen.

Tip 7 – Protect sensitive data

Be aware of sensitive data that you come into contact with, and associated restrictions – In general:

  • Keep sensitive data (e.g. credit card information, student records, health information, etc.) off of your workstation, laptop, or mobile devices.
  • Securely remove sensitive data files from your system when they are no longer needed.
  • Always use encryption when storing or transmitting sensitive data.

Tip 8 – Use mobile devices safely

Considering how much we rely on our mobile devices, and how susceptible they are to attack, you’ll want to make sure you are protected:

  • Only install apps from trusted sources.
  • Keep your device’s operating system updated.
  • Don’t click on links or attachments from unsolicited emails or texts.
  • Avoid transmitting or storing personal information on the device.

Tip 9 – Install anti-virus protection

Only install an anti-virus program from a known and trusted source.  Keep virus definitions, engines and software up to date to ensure your anti-virus program remains effective.

Tip 10 – Back up your data

Back up regularly – if you are a victim of a security incident, the only guaranteed way to repair your computer is to erase and re-install the system.

Here are some additional tips to help keep you safe and secure online:

  • Use a firewall – Mac and Windows have basic desktop firewalls as part of their operating system that can help protect your computer from external attacks.
  • Use public wireless hot-spots wisely for staying safe.
  • Be conscientious of what you plug into your computer (flash drives and even smartphones can contain malware).
  • Be careful of what you share on social networking sites.
  • Monitor your accounts for suspicious activity.
  • Bank or shop online only on trusted devices and networks – and logout of these sites when you’ve completed your transactions.