With living in an age where personal computers are readily available and connected to the world-wide web comes the personal responsibility to protect the very same. Every day hundreds of major companies such as Sony, Home Depot, and Target are being hacked. The result? Millions of personal files and financial information is stolen and sold while the sites themselves go down until the attack is contained. Most people either assume the government and big business will tackle this or would prefer not to think about it at all. The truth is there’s only so much they can do, and as cliché as the old adage may be, it is important we all do our part.
Where can we begin in protecting our personal computers? First and foremost make sure your firewall is actually turned on. I personally got a nasty virus because a family member turned my firewall off to play an online game. If you’re not sure how to do this (and use windows) here’s a link to show step by step: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/turn-windows-firewall-on-off#turn-windows-firewall-on-off=windows-7
Secondly, make sure your anti-virus is up to date and runs frequent sweeps. Most people’s PCs come standard with Norton Anti-Virus installed and typically is free for a year upon purchase. If you’re tight on cash or just don’t think Norton is worth fifty dollars get your-self a free anti-virus program. Malwarebytes anti-malware and Ad-Aware Free Anti-Virus+ are both great and free. Malwarebytes does have a paid premium version as well. Both can be downloaded from CNET at no cost at: http://download.cnet.com/windows/3150-8022_4-0.html
Third, change your passwords frequently. Most people tend to use the same two or three for a variety of uses making them especially vulnerable. Changing your password is important, but equally important is having a variety of passwords for all your logins. If you’re not sure how strong your password is check out this site to see how long in theory it would take a computer to crack it try: https://howsecureismypassword.net/
Finally, if you believe you still have adware or spyware on your computer and can’t figure how to get rid of it, the best thing to do is to do a system restore. Back up all your files on an external hard drive and restore your computer to an earlier point before the virus. Although your computer will automatically make a few restore points, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to create some of your own and back it up on a cd. Note this may not always work for particularly awful viruses. If you’re not sure how to do that here’s a step by step process for Windows: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/products/features/system-restore
According to eMarketer, the average American spends almost 5 hours either on the internet or using their digital devices. With 76% of people living paycheck to paycheck we can’t afford not to take care of our devices. Pandalabs, a computer security company, puts America in 2013 at around 29% of all computers having some form of virus, trojan or malware. It will only take a minute to help secure your computer…and as we have all heard before, “15 minutes could save your computer” or maybe it was car insurance.