1. Ensure that you use an Internet Security solution.
At one time the free anti-virus products were sufficient for protecting the average home computer user but these days viruses account for less than 50% of security threats to your system. Obviously using a free anti-virus solution is better than nothing but for better protection use a full Internet Security Suite such as Norton or Kaspersky.
2. Check the URL (web address) of any search results before clicking on a link.
Ensure that you only visit known valid sites or sites connected to the product or service that you are searching for. For example if you are searching for the product Malware Bytes then you may see this search result in Google
Look at the address shown in green. This is where the target of that search is located. In this case it is a valid site. If it shows something that you are unfamiliar or a strange url then don’t go to it. Find an alternative or check out the validity of the URL.
3. Use Internet Site Advisor tools
Related to the above there are a number of tools that check the validity of a url in a search result and indicate if a site is safe. If you have a full Internet Security Suite then it should include one of these. If not Mcafee offer a free one. Safe sites are indicated with green tick, yellow tick etc. (see image)
4. Do NOT use duplicate passwords.
Not a very popular suggestion this one but the use of duplicate passwords for different sites is a major cause of accounts being hacked. If you need to then write them down – if you do then use a code so what you’ve written won’t mean anything to anyone else. There are also tools that will keep a secure encrypted list of your password but obviously you need PC/Tablet access to use these.
5. Never open attachments in unexpected emails
Even if they appear to be from a friend or family member. Check with the person first before opening the attachment using a NEW email thread (don’t forward on the attachment).
6. Be vigilant in what you say or click on in Chat rooms or on Social media
I am amazed at what people impart about themselves on social media. Do not put ANYTHING on there that you don’t want the world to see. You may think only your friends are reading it but if they share it to their friends, who share it to their friends etc. then it’s quickly out of control.
7. Regularly check your browser for add-on
One of the most common problems that I see in the field is where users have had their browser hacked by a company or individual re-directing their searches or causing pop-ups. All browsers have the in-built capability to be reset to remove this type of add-on. Look online to learn how to reset your browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari etc.) and check it frequently.
8. Do not allow cold caller access to your system.
There are a number of scams running where you will receive a telephone call informing you that there is a problem on your computer. THERE IS NO LEGITIMATE COMPANY DOING THIS. If you receive such a call then hang up. Likewise if you see a pop up on your PC offering the same it is likely a scam. Ignore it unless you can validate the authenticity.