Operation system defense: Best ways to test your computer’s security
Here are some ways to help you protect your computer against hackers.
So, you just bought a new computer and need to figure out ways to protect it from potential attacks. The good news is there are ways to protect yourself online. The bad news is if you wait too long, you’re essentially playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette.
This means that every time you log into your computer, your personal data – such as banking information, social security, and IP address – is at risk. In other words, the hard drive in your computer becomes a magnet for cyber-attacks, and hackers nowadays will stop at nothing to break into your system.
With the internet revolutionizing our lives in numerous positive ways, how can you stay protected, and how do you know if the security system you put on your computer really works?
It’s important to know that cyber-attacks come in many different forms, which means cyber-crimes are moving away from the traditional server crashes. Instead, they’re moving towards virtual manipulation and unauthorized access. So you’ll want to approach the problem from different angles. Think of it as a doctor trying to figure out what’s wrong with a patient. If that doesn’t help put things into perspective, don’t worry, here are some ways to help you protect your computer against hackers.
Test Your Firewall: The main purpose of a network firewall is to keep all potential malware away from your device. If done correctly, a network firewall can pretty much make your computer invisible and prevent you from being a victim of identity theft; if hackers can’t see your computer, then they won’t be able to attack you. Windows and Mac both come equipped with decent firewalls already built in, along with other security programs designed to give users a free trial month, but they’re not perfect.
Generally speaking, hackers typically use a port scanning device to scan for computers nearby with an open port that might be vulnerable, providing hackers with an opportunity to gain sensitive information. So if you have just one wrong port setting on your computer, it can reveal your whole life. Hackers will then have access to your email, phone carrier, and of course, your bank. They look for the sites you visit the most, or companies that email you the most, and go from there. The scary part is if you have a virus on your computer, you might not even know that these settings are being changed right underneath your fingertips.
That being said, a port test scans your firewall to make sure your computer is safe. If the system can see you, so can the hackers.
Check Your Social Media Settings: According to TechCrunch, there are approximately 2.7 billion Facebook users, 328 million Twitter users, and 500 million Instagram active users on any given day; and your social media accounts could be packed with personal data that a hacker would love to explore.
That’s why the “View As” tool was developed; it was designed to show you what your profile looks like from the other side – the public's view. So if any of your information is shown by accident, you can see it, and correct it immediately before it gets out to the public.
For example, when you log onto to Facebook, go to your timeline and see what post you’ve been tagged in recently. After that, go to your settings and select the option that reads “Who can see things on my timeline” and click on the “View As” option. Consider this the public’s view on your account, which simply means you’ll see what your account looks like from the other side. You’ll see what pictures and/or videos are publically shown, see what post you’ve been tagged in, and see if your email is shown anywhere on the page.
Remember, you can change and alter whatever settings you don’t like on your social media accounts. What else can be done to ensure your safety online? Stay up-to-date on internet security news. Listen to a podcast, check credible sources regarding internet security, and make your page as private as possible.
Update Your Browsers: One of the most important things to do after buying a new computer is making sure your internet browser is up-to-date. Only the latest version will withstand the slightest chance of protecting you from attacks and viruses.
This, however, is only the beginning. You also need to make sure the browser plug-ins are updated as well. You can check for an update on your Windows or Macintosh device browser by clicking on the “Settings” tab, or allow your computer to do it automatically once it connects to a network.
What happens if your internet browser isn’t update-to-date?
Well, much like an old software, an outdated browser leaves your computer vulnerable to attacks. It’s true, keeping your web browser updated might seem like an unnecessary chore, but it can make a big difference in your computer's defense system.
If you’re using Internet Explorer, or any other running browser on your Windows computer, then these updates are extremely important. Internet Explorer, for instance, has more vulnerabilities than many of the other web browsers according to Forbes.
Another reason to keep your web browser up-to-date is for better performance. As a user, you won’t always know if a web-page is acting up, loading slower than usual, or being redesigned if the browser isn’t performing the way it should.
In the end, make sure you keep your software up-to-date by following the instructions provided by the vendors. If your operating system no longer supports certain software, it’s time to update your computer.
Thanks for the read! Did I miss anything? What are some other ways users can protect themselves online? Feel free to leave a comment below.