Online Security and Keeping Yourself Safe

Online Security is a hot topic and it can affect every aspect of our digital lives.

There’s always someone out there trying to steal our information and digital files. It maybe someone or something that hacks into our various online accounts or even trying to gain access to our computers remotely. How do we keep ourselves and our digital assets secure?

How to stay safe online

  1. If you see a pop-up window that appears to be from Microsoft saying that your computer has been infected and it tells you to “click here” to have someone remotely log in to your system to fix it, DON’T! They are not from Microsoft. Yes, someone or something will log remotely into your computer system but often times, a malware program will be installed that could possibly hold your files hostage until a certain fee or ransom is paid.
  1. If someone calls your home or cell phone claiming to be from Microsoft with a similar message, HANG UP! Do not engage these people and do not follow their instructions. They have no actual knowledge of your computer. If you grant them access to log into your computer system, they will most likely install a malware program that could possibly hold your files hostage until a certain fee or ransom is paid. Again, they are not from Microsoft.
  1. If you get an email from a service provider such as banking, credit card, electric, or utility company and even accounts like Netflix, saying there is a problem with your payment or account settings, verify this by calling the company directly. Most companies that provide you with a service or you have a subscription will contact you directly. They will call you or send you a notice in the mail with direct instructions on how to correct the issue. If you click on a link they’ve provided in the email, verify the link goes to that specific company’s website address. If the website address is unrecognizable or is asking for strange information, leave that website immediately.
  1. Email accounts are frequently spoofed or hacked. When this happens, bulk emails are often sent to everyone in a person’s contact list. These emails often contain attachments that have a file extension of .zip or .exe. NEVER open these as they often contain viruses that not only send the email on to everyone in your email’s contact list but will also corrupt your files and computer.

What do you do if your computer or files are compromised?

No matter how careful you are, it can still happen. There are often many ways and options to fix your computer if it has been compromised or hacked.

  1. Make sure your malware or virus protection software is up to date. There are many reputable companies that offer real-time virus protection. Virus programs are developed and unleashed on a daily basis and virus protection software is constantly being updated to stay on top of them. If your software hasn’t been updated for six months or more, you are leaving yourself open to viruses. Check out this article from PC Magazine that compares virus protection software.
  1. Back up your computer often! From my previous blog, there are many ways to back up the files on your computer in case you are attacked by a virus or hardware failure. If your computer requires a hard drive reset and your files are safely backed up, you won’t lose anything.
  1. If you think someone has remotely connected to your computer, the process is a little more involved to have the problem fixed but check out these articles from Wikihow.com and Microsoft how to prevent future remote logins. If you allow access to someone over the phone by accident and you know they are in your system, shut down the computer or the internet immediately.
  1. If your computer has a virus that isn’t being detected by your computer’s virus protection software, you may need to enlist the help of a computer service professional. They will have tools and methods to fix your computer safely and effectively and can even help protect your system from future issues.

It can happen to anyone at any time. The best thing to do is be prepared and be proactive about how to prevent or fix any security issues your computer may be vulnerable to. Have you had a virus or cyber attack? How did you correct the situation?