How to Secure Your Home Computer and Network
While we’re known for supporting businesses in computer and network security, we often get calls from desperate home users who have fallen prey to malware, a virus, or worse, ransomware. Typically we are unable to service home users and recommend they speak with local computer repair shops to get help. We put this brief guide together on securing your home network which may help those we can’t service.
Are you the victim of a cyberattack right now?
Please see this excellent collection of guides from The Cyber Helpline with guidance on how to react to and recover from a wide range of cyber-attacks including ransomware, blackmail, social media hacks, online scams, and much more.
Another great resource is this UK-based site with advice on dealing with online abuse with step-by-step guides on locking down all of your technology and protecting yourself from abusers.
Why It Is Important to Protect Your Computer
Keeping up with personal cybersecurity can be challenging as the internet develops and grows. A data breach of your information can result in devastating consequences like identity theft. Maintaining a secure computer at home requires the correct wisdom and tools.
Always secure your data if you use a computer to store personal information or run a small business. Over the last few years, hackers have stolen billions of records from private and corporate computers. Cybercriminals typically target personal information for financial gain, but some participate in other crimes, like:
- Vandalism or trolling: maliciously sabotaging a computer network for personal reasons
- Espionage or stalking: spying on others by stealing records or accessing webcams
- “Hacktivism”: altering or hijacking personal computers for political or social causes
Though data breaches are common, they are also preventable. Keeping an eye on your computer and internet security is crucial for protecting yourself.
Takeaway: Hacking is widespread across the internet and creates severe problems for users.
The Secure Home Computer | How to Boost Your Protection
Reduce the likelihood of hacks with the correct operating system and antivirus software. You can take advantage of several strategies to boost your protection. Professionals recommend incorporating at least two or more of these methods for the best results.
Utilize a Firewall
A firewall is a security function that monitors and controls traffic around a network. Windows and Mac users enjoy built-in firewalls that provide added protection.
A firewall is a great way to minimize your home network security hole so you can download software safely. However, not all firewalls are the same.
For example, proxy firewalls are great for navigating specific applications. Meanwhile, virtual firewalls deploy in a private cloud to streamline efficiency.
Antivirus Software for Operating Systems
Downloading antivirus software is an essential strategy for protecting a computer. Several free and premium antivirus programs help you identify and avoid malicious emails, links, and other features.
If your software detects a threat, it will provide an urgent message in the browser window with details.
Antivirus programs can protect you at home and while using public Wi-Fi, like at a coffee shop. Install an antivirus application on your mobile device as well. This way, you can protect sensitive data stored on phones or tablets.
Use Strong Passwords
Complex passwords make it difficult for hackers to access your sensitive information. Consider ditching the default password option for one with special symbols and at least eight characters. This method is beneficial for accounts connected to a financial institution or social media profile.
Cybercriminals often use basic strategies to decrypt passwords. Prevent your financial information and mailing address from falling into the wrong hands by being proactive.
Avoid using the same password for every account. If you worry about keeping track of too many passwords, try installing a secure password manager.
Other Login Options
Biometric login functions are effective password managers for mobile devices. This modern technology will scan your face or unique fingerprint so strangers can’t break in.
Other accounts that store private data may need two-step authentication. These features require an initial password and will send you a second code via email or text.
Using these tools will help you feel safe knowing you are the only one with explicit permission to access and view personal information.
Keep Your Operating System Updated
Monitoring security updates is critical for protecting your network. Automatic updates for Windows security prevent you from missing gaps that exploit your data.
Double-check to ensure all your optional programs are updated. Protect every corner of your network by monitoring and updating other programs like Microsoft Office.
Explore Virtual Private Network Options
Network virtualization software is an excellent way to sidestep OS vulnerabilities. This method allows you to move across different domains without reconfiguring your network.
You can enjoy a high-speed internet connection and easy navigation between web browsers by taking advantage of network virtualization. Make online activities simple across all internet-connected devices by deploying and updating applications quickly.
Monitor Your Applications and Other Systems
Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge have their strengths and weaknesses. Still, you should continue to monitor software updates and changes to ensure your system is not vulnerable.
If you use smart home applications, ensure the system is legitimate and up to date. Exposing one device to malicious software can threaten the data you store on other devices.
Takeaway: Several options help boost network protection across any OS. Download practical antivirus software and keep up with regular updates for the best results.
Continue to educate yourself on safe internet use. Some of the most common cyberattacks originate from user mistakes. Clicking on malicious links or volunteering sensitive data to shady third-party sites is the easiest way for cybercriminals to exploit you.
Learn tricks that help you identify risky websites. For example, check the left side of the address bar at the top of your screen. If you see a padlock symbol, the website is secure from intrusion.
Takeaway: Follow new developments to avoid falling behind on digital security.
Find Reliable Help for Your Home Computers and Network
You may not have the time or resources to protect your computer from threats. Finding a reputable local computer repair service provider can save you a lot of headaches, especially if done before you encounter any problems. A quick online search will likely be your best bet. Smaller independent outfits are usually the better choice over the “nerd team” at your nearest big box stores. When you get in touch with a service provider, ask if they can assist you with remote computer support and if they offer proactive monitoring to prevent issues from occurring before they do any damage.
Going with a local company where you can visit their store if needed is recommended, and try to check if there are any online reviews or feedback about the company before you engage with them.