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Jul
31
2013

Top 10 Tips to Protect Your Computer from Hackers and Viruses

Hackers are relentless. They’ll stop at nothing to get to your personal information. While this is a frightening reality, it is possible to prevent them from gaining access to your PC. Don’t risk leaving your computer unprotected from hackers and viruses. Below are 10 simple tips that can help ensure your PC will remain secure from the ongoing threat posed by hackers.



1. Install an antivirus program

Look, you just dropped $1500 on an elite gaming PC. Shell out the extra cash and get yourself a good antivirus program. Want to save your cash for games to play? There are plenty of good free options out there as well, such as Avast! and AVG. Antivirus programs are an important safety net for anyone to have. A top-notch antivirus program will quarantine and remove a virus before it infects your PC, effectively solving the problem before it even exists. Don’t let your precious PC go unprotected. A simple antivirus download will prevent a lot of headaches down the road.

2. Get a good antispyware/antimalware program

Both spyware and malware act differently from normal viruses as they are designed to attack the inherent weaknesses of web browsing software. Take the initiative and get yourself a good program to prevent any security leaks when you’re browsing the web. Sometimes, these come bundled with antivirus programs, but programs like Spybot and Malwarebytes are excellent for defending your computer from spyware and malware.

3. Keep your computer updated

You know those notifications to update your computer that you keep ignoring? Stop ignoring them. When Microsoft and Apple release updates for your computer, they include security updates to keep up with the latest viruses and hacking tools. A simple process like accepting an update on your computer can actually make it less susceptible to both viruses and hackers. So, next time that little notification window pops up and asks you to update, take the extra five minutes to secure your computer.

4. Use a firewall

A firewall is another excellent defense against potential attacks. Firewalls act as a sort of alarm, warning you of any suspicious attempts to connect to your computer. Firewalls serve as a first defense against malicious attacks against things like worms, Trojans, and hackers from accessing important files and programs on your computer.

5. Don’t open any suspicious email attachments or links

This one should be a no-brainer. Viruses and keyloggers can be attached to just about any file type, so don’t open email attachments that you’re not expecting. The same goes for suspicious links in emails. Hackers are getting crafty these days, and will often mask their email address to appear as one from a reputable company and include links that look safe. And while we’re on the topic of email, don’t give any money to Nigerian princes that need your help, OK?

6. Don’t pirate software

Obviously there are legal reasons to avoid pirating software, but your computer’s security is also at risk when you download software from shady websites. Many of the sites that host pirated software are loaded with spyware and are generally more trouble than they’re worth. Much like suspicious email attachments, it’s also quite easy for a hacker to attach a virus to a file that claims to be something it’s not. Do yourself, your computer, and the developers of the software a favor: buy it legally and avoid any potential issues.

7. Create a unique password

No, that doesn’t mean to just throw a “1” at the end of your password that you use for every site. No, “password1,” is also not a unique or creative password. Make your password a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols that is difficult to guess. The more complicated your password, the harder it is for hackers to access your sensitive information. Try not to avoid including things like: pet names, favorite sports teams, favorite movies, etc.

8. Use a pop-up blocker

“Click here to win a new car today!” Yeah, pop-ups are pretty annoying. Everyone hates them. Not only do they contain annoying ads, but some can contain harmful code that can infect your computer with loads of spyware. If you followed tip #2, that shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s never a bad idea to have an extra layer of security.

9. Don’t share your personal information with anyone

This generally goes without saying, but it’s an important rule to reiterate. Don’t share any of your login information for any website with anyone. If you give someone your personal information and their computer is infected, your information is now in the hands of the hackers who attacked them. Moreover, do you really want your private information in the hands of anyone but yourself? It’s private for a reason, you know.

10. Browse the web intelligently

Listen, if you’re wandering through the streets of New York City, you’re not going to wander into a dark alley, right? The same should go for web browsing. Try to avoid websites that seem fishy. Odds are, if it looks shady, it is shady. Make sure you’re using the latest version of your web browser.

 

There are many other ways that you can protect your computer from hackers and viruses, but these are some of the most important ones. A few simple downloads—as well as safely navigating the internet—can keep your PC virus free. Do you have any other tips for keeping your computer safe? Let us know in the comments below!

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