Everything these days has some sort of connection to the Internet or at least to your local network in your house. With all of these hackers getting into these massive companies and stealing sensitive data, how are you supposed to protect yourself?

Here are 7 simple ways to protect your computer against hackers and malware. Please beware that this is an ever-evolving situation that requires your due diligence and constant efforts to keep up with the changes in technology.

Tip #1

Make sure to update your operating system religiously. Newer versions of Windows like Windows 10 are making this task much easier by trying to automate this task for you and they are doing it actually pretty well. However, if you are running older versions like Windows 8.1 /8 or Windows 7 (or older) you will want to make sure that you are getting and installing the updates. If you are not getting the updates make sure to correct the issues that are not allowing you to get the needed updates to your operating system.

If you are in the older operating systems category, I would highly recommend that you look into upgrading your operating system. At the least, consider newer hardware that will run the newer OS because operating systems have a shelf life. They are supported for a specific period of time before the patching and updates that protect your computer stop for good.

Tip #2

Make sure to update all of your other applications. This encompasses all the applications that you have installed on your computer. Some of the most popular ones are Adobe Reader, Java, and Microsoft Office just to name a few.

Luckily there is an application that can help you to keep your other applications up to date. The application is called Ninite Updater. If you would like to check out more about this tool, then head on over to their website at: https://ninite.com/

While they do not cover every application, they do have a huge selection and they have some of the more popular applications covered. For all of your other apps you will need to check to see how you can keep them up to date.

Tip #3

Don’t use or connect to “open” WiFi Hotspots on your computer. I get the lure of wanting to save money ($$$) by cashing in on surrounding WiFi networks that allow you unfettered access to the Internet or even faster speeds, but it’s never a good idea.

First off, by connecting to open networks you are opening yourself to potential network spreading viruses, malware, ransomware, spyware, or other exploits that hackers and nefarious people use. This is especially more severe if you do not have your firewall turned on your computer or you have password issues. Issues like not using passwords, or using really weak passwords.

Second, you have no idea who is controlling that network or who all is connected to it. When in doubt, just DON’T DO IT!

Tip #4

Never ever allow someone to connect to your computer unless you trust them explicitly. These days the scammers and hackers make web pages look almost identical to the company’s that you know, trust, and do business with. All it takes is one wrong click to invite the bad guys into your computer.

A few things to check is to make sure that you are connected to the right site. The domain matches and the SSL certificate matches up with the domain that you are used to seeing. If something doesn’t look quite right close out the web browser and run some scans to see if something on your computer is not right.

Please remember that companies like Microsoft will NEVER call you to let you know that you have a virus on your computer. DO NOT FALL FOR THE TRAP! I have talked to several people who gave complete strangers access to their computer and paid a huge fee to have “a special virus” removed from their computer. If you find yourself in this predicament, call your trusted computer guy before ever allowing someone to connect to your computer to “fix” something.

Tip #5

Be very picky about the software that you choose to install on your computer. Sometimes it’s easy to just install software to get a quick task done and then forget that it resides on your PC. Unused software that is not patched or updated can cause you issues down the road. Not to mention, that it can even take resources if it’s running in the background without you knowing.

So remove old software that isn’t used and limit your exposure to installing applications from sources that you are not familiar with or have a bad reputation online.

Tip #6

Delete suspicious emails! Emails are one of the main ways that malware and hackers make it into your computer. Most of them try to attach an infected file, zipped attachment, or even put links for you to click on.  NEVER EVER CLICK THE LINKS IN ANY EMAIL THAT YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH.

If you sense that an email is spam, spoofed, or comes from an unknown source, just put it in the trash!

If you click or open an attachment by mistake, call your IT or computer guy immediately and shut your PC down until they can look at it.  This will minimize the damage the virus or malware can do.

Tip #7

Stay cool. When unexpected computer issues arise, the best thing to do is to think with a level head. Document what happened and any observations that might help. Make sure to share the full story with your IT guy/gal so they can have all the info they need to get your computer fixed up with the least amount of down time.