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Techsperts Talks About Cybersecurity: Part Two

May, 21 2014

Techsperts Talks About is where you’ll find our favorite technology tips, tricks, and information. In this, our second post of the series, we’ll share our top picks for information about keeping your computer secure, as well as our favorite security software programs.

Target’s security breach. Heartbleed (the thing that made your secured connections suddenly unsecured). Internet Explorer’s latest vulnerability. If you’re like us, these incidents probably had you scrambling to rework all your passwords.

Computer security is something to be taken seriously. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a joint undertaking by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, there were over 262,000 complaints filed in 2013 alone, and these complaints racked up a total loss in excess of $780 million. (Read the full report here.)

So, you’re perfectly right to be concerned about your computer security, be it on your home computer, your business PC, or in the Cloud. But there’s no need to panic. Staying safe is a matter of common sense and common precautions.

 

Basic Cybersecurity Measures

Without spending too much time on the subject, let’s just briefly review easy steps everyone should take to stay safe online:

  1. Don’t give personal information to sites you are not 100% sure are secure and legitimate.
  2. Don’t use the same password for multiple sites.
  3. Use a firewall and an anti-malware program, or buy them bundled in an Internet security suite like those provided by Norton, Webroot, Bitdefender, TrendMicro, AVG, and others.
  4. Don’t install programs unless you are sure you can trust the source.
  5. Don’t open suspicious, unsolicited emails.

That’s not all there is to staying secure online, but it’s a good start. Now, we’ll delve into where you can find information to help you dig deeper in your quest for computer security.

Our Top Security-Related Sites and Tools

You need reputable information when it comes to cybersecurity. A good place to start is by reading the blogs and cybersecurity columns of newspapers and magazines. These often help you stay current with news and trends. But when it comes to the nitty-gritty, the hows and whys of PC security, we like US-CERT, the Department of Homeland Security’s computer information portal. We especially like that it’s divided into sections for home and business users, government users, and industrial control systems users. If this site proves a little too technical for you, try its related, newbie-friendly sites, OnGuard Online (a great choice for families) and StaySafeOnline.

Malware—viruses, spyware, adware, and the like—is one of the biggest concerns for PC owners. Running a decent security suite should keep you relatively trouble-free, but it’s always good to have a backup plan. If you think your system may be infected, try running a free scan from Malwarebytes, an on-demand virus scanning program that comes highly recommended by PCMag, CNET, and the writer of this blog. It may catch something your other programs have missed.

Finally, let’s talk about passwords. To be frank, passwords are a nuisance. Who has the time (or the inclination) to remember all the dozens of strings of numbers, letters, and symbols that make up a secure password? But the fact is, we need them.

Getting a password manager is a good idea if you struggle with password overload. Using these managers, your passwords are securely stored, either on your system or in the Cloud. (For a good idea of how this should work, check out Dashlane’s detailed explanation.) Password managers may be included in your Internet security software, or you can download reputable ones, such as Last Pass and Dashlane, free for personal use.

It’s a big old scary world out there, but you don’t have to go through it unprotected. What do you do to stay secure online? Leave a comment below and tell us about it. And be sure to catch the next post in the Techsperts Talks About series!

-Author Robert McNicholas

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