When you’re surfing online, do all the potential hazards make you feel like you’re visiting the Wild West? You’re not too likely to contract a deadly disease or battle with train robbers over the Internet, but it’s easy to wander into unprotected territory on the Web.
With names like spyware, malware, viruses, worms and Trojan horses, these programs are created to do harm to your digital life. Luckily, you can save yourself hours of headache and hassle with a few simple steps to help prevent these programs from harming your devices.
Possibly the simplest and most effective thing you can do to protect your computer is to always keep your operating system and software programs up to date.
Unfortunately, this recently became impossible for Microsoft Windows XP users. In April, Microsoft ended support for the XP operating system. While it doesn’t mean that the system is going to stop working, it does mean that Microsoft will no longer issue any new security patches or system updates for the popular platform. If you choose to continue to operate on this system, you’re putting your digital well-being at risk. Since many machines running XP are older, upgrading to a new operating system isn’t as simple as it might seem. Purchasing a new computer may be the most effective way to avoid the harm the out-of-date operating system could cause.
Another simple step is to practice safe browsing habits. Monitor the sites you visit and what links you open while surfing the Internet. Make sure the sites you’re visiting seem reputable and trustworthy.
Also, make sure you’re aware of opportunities that seem too good to be true. Just because a good friend forwards an email link or shares something on social media, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they sent it. If something seems strange, call them and verify that they sent the email or posted the link.
Finally, make sure your networks are password protected and that you’re changing your passwords often. This helps to prevent hackers from taking advantage of your accounts and personal information.
Like most things in life, using these tips isn’t a 100-percent guarantee that you’ll be safe online, but the more you do to keep yourself safe, the better off you’ll be.
Suggested free anti-virus programs:
- Panda Cloud Antivirus
- Avast! Antivirus
- AVG Antivirus
- Spybot — Search and Destroy
- McAfee SiteAdvisor