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Computer Safety 101

People often think of computer security as something technical. And when you get into the details it can be, but the most important parts are actually very simple. Here are the basic, somethings you should do to make yourself safer online.

Be smart, be safe

  • Patch, Patch, PATCH!
  • Keep your system up-to-date: All the software we use every day is likely riddled with security issues. These security issues are constantly being found—whether we’re talking about Windows, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, the Adobe Flash plugin, Adobe’s PDF Reader, Microsoft Office—the list goes on and on. So keep automatic updates switched on.

  • Install protective software:
  • Let’s set the record straight: you should be running antivirus, even if you’re careful on the web. Which one? It’s up to you—though when it comes to free, simple, and good, there’s nothing wrong with using Windows Defender. It’s built in to Windows, it updates automatically with the Windows Update utility, it has no discernible impact on performance, and it’s free. If you spend time on the shadier corners of the internet, you may want something a bit stronger, like AVG or Kaspersky, but for most home users, Windows Defender should be fine.

  • Choose strong passwords:
  • Please, oh please stop using the same password for everything, sites get hacked all the time, and if you’re using the same password everywhere, you’ve given someone access to all of your accounts when just one leaks information. You need to use long passwords and you need to use different ones on every site.

    https://haveibeenpwned.com/ is a great way to see just how bad it can be.

  • Two Factor Authentication:
  • (2FA) or (MFA) PayPal, Amazon, Microsoft all offer 2FA. Multifactor authentication combines two or more independent credentials: what the user knows (password), what the user has (security token/mobile app) and what the user is (biometric verification). The goal of MFA is to create a layered defense and make it more difficult for an unauthorized person to access a target such as a physical location, computing device, network or database. If one factor is compromised or broken, the attacker still has at least one more barrier to breach before successfully breaking into the target.

  • Never Leave Your Phone or Computer Unattended:
  • This may seem obvious, but it deserves saying: If your device gets stolen, the best case scenario is you losing your expensive device. But if you leave something unattended the worst case scenario is that someone has your expensive gadget and all of your personal information. All it takes is a kid with slightly-more-than-basic computer knowledge to get at all your data, and if they have your computer in their hands, it’s a lot easier.

  • Avoid deals that are too good to be true:
  • No one gives anything away for free. no its not your lucky day, no you have not won a PS5 that isn't out yet, or that pony you wanted!

  • Never divulge sensitive information:
  • You wouldn’t tell a stranger on the street your PIN number, don’t do it online, if the bank emails you from an email address of YourBank.com, odds are its not - is it!

  • Avoid opening unknown emails or links
  • If you want to be truly secure, you could never click on links in emails. But that’s not realistic or convenient, First, check is if this link goes where it says it goes. If you hover your cursor over the link, the destination should pop up at the bottom of your browser window. If the link says “ebay.com”, but the real destination says “ebay.clickme.com”, something is suspicious, and you shouldn’t click.

  • Be Careful About Programs You Download and Run:
  • This tip may also seem obvious—you hear it all the time, and probably think you follow it. But so much of the malware Windows users encounter seems to be as a result of accidentally downloading and installing bad software.

  • Most importantly, stay informed:
  • keep up to date with the lasted scams, don’t learn the hard way.