Privacy and Computer Safety Tips

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by Barbara J. Feldman on March 26, 2008

Your computer contains a lot of information. In addition to the files, financial information, private documents, photos, and other things stored on your computer, sites you visit and information you enter into the Internet, such as account numbers, social security numbers, and credit card information, can be accessed by hackers if you don’t keep your computer secure.

Because losing everything on your computer would be devastating, it’s best to go out of your way to protect it from physical damage as well as security threats. The following are some of the best ways you can do that.

Security features for privacy

•Internet security is important. For a hacker who knows what he’s doing, breaking into a computer is simple unless you have the right security features.
•Firewall. Firewall protection is the best way to protect yourself online, especially if you have an Internet connection that is always on (such as broadband or DSL; basically, anything but dial-up.) Firewall works to block unwanted Internet traffic into your network, as well as protecting your information from leaving. Most firewall software subscriptions last a year, and at forty to fifty dollars a year (purchased in one software package and renewed yearly online), you can’t afford not to have it. Firewall will protect your computer by acting
•Anti-virus. Also sold as an inexpensive software package, anti-virus is another must-have for computer protection. Computer viruses circulate often and can be picked up in the form of a seemingly-harmless email or through other means. Damage from viruses varies. They can cause little damage or completely erase your hard drive and everything on it. Anti-virus software recognizes these threats and protects your computer from being harmed.

Many anti-virus software also includes protection against spyware, which tracks what sites you visit.
•Dynamic IP address. Your IP address is basically your computer’s fingerprint and is stamped on every site you visit, allowing anyone who wants to the ability to track your Internet habits and the sites you visit. More than likely, your Internet service provider has given you a dynamic IP address, meaning it changes with whatever site you visit and makes you harder to track. However, check to make sure you don’t have a static IP address, which does not change.

Computer safety

•While security features help, you can also keep your computer safe by practicing good Internet habits to reduce your chances for risk.
•Know what you are opening/downloading. Viruses can come in the form of what look like legitimate downloads, such as emails from friends or “special offers.” If you don’t recognize the name the email is coming from, it’s best to just delete it.
•Make sure you are entering your information into secure sites. If you do a lot of online shopping, do your banking online, or get online price quotes, you will most likely be asked for sensitive information, like your social security number and credit card numbers. Make sure the site you are entering your information into is secure. This is indicated by an “https” site (for “secure”) in your address bar, or by the picture of a closed padlock in the corner of your computer screen.

Keeping your information and files safe and secure is vital for your computer. The above tips are just a few ways you can protect your sensitive information, passwords, important files, and all of the things you store on your computer.


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