Laptop Lockdown: 7 Computer Security Tips You Need to Know

securitysecurityA week doesn't go by without reading about some new virus that is attacking computers all over the world. Meanwhile, phishing scams, malware, worms and spam continue to be everyday threats. If you haven't already done so, then it's a good idea to protect your personal information and data by installing the latest security software.

But there are other things we can do to help protect ourselves; things that should be second nature but end up being forgotten as we surf the Web or rush to catch-up on e-mail. They are the good computer security habits that can go a long way to making sure we stay ahead in the constant battle to keep cyber-safe.

1. Lock your computer when you are not using it. Even if you are away from your computer for just a few moments, your data could be compromised. Close your computer and make sure the screen locks.

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2. Disconnect from the Internet. Most broadband connections allow us to stay permanently connected to the Internet, but this convenience comes with risks. The chances of your computer being attacked is much higher if you are always connected. This is particularly true if you are using your computer at home without an adequate firewall.

3. Adjust your security settings.
The Windows XP, Windows 7, and Mac OS operating systems all have multiple security settings, as do the popular browsers like Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox. Make sure the settings are appropriate for your computer and are adjusted for each individual user.

4. Check for security patches and software updates. Microsoft and other popular operating systems offer regular updates and software patches to protect against viruses and security flaws. Make sure your computer regularly checks for updates or visit the appropriate web page to get the latest download. (Windows users can get security updates here.)

5. Change your passwords. Change your passwords regularly, particularly for financially sensitive accounts and web sites. Don't use the same password for multiple accounts. Do not keep a copy of all your passwords on your computer. It will be much harder to re-create or access accounts if data is lost.

6. Protect against power surges and outages.
Computers are easily damaged by power surges. Make sure you are protected and consider disconnecting your computer during thunderstorms.

7. Back up your data. Set aside a few minutes a week to back up your files and personal data.

-By Monica Vila

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