11 TIPS: How safe is your PC or smartphone?

 laptop security.jpg

In light of Windows XP support going away (and with that, security updates) – not to mention the Web’s Heartbleed bug, there are a LOT of people out there wondering how safe our information really is these days. In fact, I was just reading a McAfee Threats Report – according to that, Android malware alone has jumped. “In Q3 2013, new Android malware grew by 33% reaching nearly 700K samples.” 700 thousand samples. Android alone. Think about that.

 

Look, this story isn’t some scare tactics, panic-wagon nonsense about how your computer and phone are completely vulnerable. I’m just here to help. While a lot of these tips may seem about protecting your PC, you need to remember: These days your PC contains your identity. Your personal finances, your emails, passwords to your social media sites, access to your pictures…that novel you’ve been working on in your spare time – everything! So I want to impart a couple tips and observations that can help prevent some potential headaches down the road.

 

  1. Most hardware companies don’t cold call you. HP stands behind their computers and will support you when you need help. If someone cold-calls you to sell you on tech support service – or sends you emails about Web sites that can remotely access and update your machines, use some common sense (and caution). We’ve written about tech support scams. They happen more often than you think.
  2. Stop oversharing! We don’t have to worry about big brother watching us – we’re already sharing everything and data about each other. It’s a world of “little brothers” reporting on each other through Facebook, Twitter and wherever else. Remember that every photo you post or thing you tweet adds to your digital profile. Every time you check in somewhere, people know where you AREN’T. And all someone needs to see this information? They need to follow you. Either tone down what you’re sharing or be more selective about who can see your social media life. Ubisoft’s Digital Shadow promotional tool for the upcoming game Watch_Dogs actually illustrates this point very well. OK, I’m starting to sound like a total paranoid here. I’ll stop.
  3. Don’t install everything right away. Last thing you need is some errant virus slipping through the cracks because Gramma sent along that cute cat picture she found online. What’s great about PCs – and the Android platform, for that matter – is that both are pretty open. You can download just about anything, tinker with and download tools as you need them. Whether you should trust everything you download, though, is a whole other matter. Personally, I run a malware check on any app I download before I install it. Same goes for documents and ZIP files. Even mentioning this reminds me of a recent bug sweep I had to do on my wife’s PC.
  4. The cloud is great for storage – and spreading a virus if you’re not careful. If you’re like me, you have your files backed up to the cloud so that you can access them anywhere. I’m talking phones, tablets, laptops and your trusty ol’ desktop. Those files are constantly in-sync in a shared folder. But what happens when you accidentally drop an infected file into that shared folder? You’re spreading the infection. This is kind of a corollary to what I just said. You’ve got to screen for viruses as best you can before you introduce them not just to the PC you’re using at the time, but all the other connected devices. Basically, you need something that can keep tabs on not just your PC – but the other devices you live with every day. Apps like McAfee LiveSafe fit that need. And if you have the ability to protect your other devices, do soWe’ll get back to that in a minute. (or you can just skip to point “9”.)
  5. Lock your phone / tablet! Put a secure lockdown on your mobile devices. If you lose them and they are unprotected, your identity is ripe for the plucking. I’ve lost phones before – thank God they’ve been password-protected. And when the person that “found” my phone chose not to return my calls, I remotely wiped it. Enjoy that $500 brick, ya crook!
  6. ALWAYS update drivers and security patches. This is a big – but often overlooked item. Flaws can (and will) be found in software over time. So, if there is a security update offered by Microsoft, you need to download that and not mess around. Same goes for Adobe or any other major product you own. Go to the COMPANY Web site and grab whatever updates you need. Unless it’s a trusted source (like CNET’s Download.com) I always default to a company’s download site for apps and updates. So, for example, that HP computer you have? First stop should always be http://support.hp.com.
  7. Public WiFi? No thanks! A security expert buddy of mine illustrated to me years ago that it is a breeze to break into someone else’s PC on an open WiFi network. Inside of a minute, he was showing me files on another PC in the same coffee shop. Don’t want to be “that guy?” Try taking a hidden mobile hotspot with you. Heck, depending upon the phone you have, that can be tethered to your computer to become your data lifeline.
  8. Be smart about your passwords. This tip is particularly relevant considering how the Web bug, Heartbleed, potentially exposed a lot of information to hackers. There are books and sites and all sorts of tomes dedicated to cryptology and password generation theory. Best advice I can give: Don’t use “typical” passwords. Hint: Names of important people in your life, your name or important dates should not be the way to access your bank account. Don’t use the same password for vital accounts. And don’t use the password “12345!”  If you have an option to go with 2-step authentication passwords, do it. What may seem like a pain, gives you a lot more control over who could access your accounts. Also try checking out password services such as LastPass and 1Password that stash all those encryption needs in one place. Of course, if you have an HP laptop with the biometric fingerprint scanner, you already have some protection – it’s called SimplePass. It saves passwords in the BIOS locked to your fingerprint.  You can learn a little more about SimplePass right here.
  9. Never click links from emails. This is kinda an old-school, no-brainer tip – but we all need a reminder sometimes. Doesn’t matter if it’s from your buddy, FedEx or your bank. Unless it’s a password reset command you sent yourself DON’T CLICK IT. Go straight to the legit Web site and enter your information there.
  10. Get yourself some protection. One nice thing about HP PCs is that they come with coverage. When you buy an HP PC now, you get McAfee LiveSafe pre-installed. (And if you’re buying some premium-class computers like some Spectre PCs, you get one free year of service!) What’s nice about this app is that it protects unlimited devices (we’re talking Mac OSX, Windows PCs, Android and iOS devices), can cover your mobile devices (location/tracking software), has a built-in password manager and it hooks you up with secure cloud storage. And did I mention “free” with our premium PCs?
  11.  “Anybody that says their system is foolproof just hasn’t met the right fool yet…” The most important thing you need to remember: Nobody is 100 percent protected. No. body. You log in on that public WiFi in a hurry. You click that email link, thinking it’s legit. By then, it’s too late. Accept that you do the best you can. And try not beat yourself up (too much) when you get hit. That frustration only makes matters worse.

 

 

SO. How safe are you? Do you have any general PC security survival tips? Feel free to share your best ones below.

Labels: how-tos
Comments
by laptopcharger
November

The HP laptops are the best of one i have used and these 11 tips make my working more easier....i enjoy reading the blog...!!!!!!!

For any issue faced by you regargeing your HP laptop charger contact us whenever needed.

by Laptopbattery1
December

HP laptops are best to use and have a good product. THey have good screen to display. Laptop Screen Repair

Search The Next Bench
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 
About the Author
Labels