Keep your new computer safe

Written by Clint Turpen. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on December 07, 2011 with No Comments

This time of year, a lot of people begin to think about purchasing new high-tech devices for their families. With everything on sale, what better time to consider picking up a new computer for your home? Here are a few things to think about when you’re at the store, when you get home, and afterwards, to keep that shiny new machine secure and running smoothly.

Purchase Anti-Virus Software — The salesperson at the store is going to offer it to you. Buy it. Just because the store makes a profit doesn’t automatically make it a racket. There are three major players in the market today: Norton, McAfee and Kaspersky.

All three do a fine job of protecting your computer. Do some online research to find out which one is best for you. I use Norton at home because it’s what I bought several years ago, but my personal preference these days is for Kaspersky. I find it uses less system resources and doesn’t interrupt my work. Norton on the other hand likes to interrupt you with reminders that your computer is using a lot of memory (while using up more memory to tell you that). Look, if I’m running six open browser tabs, a word processor, playing an MP3 album and have an old copy of Quake 2 running at the same time, I already know I’m using a lot of my computer’s capabilities. But that’s a personal preference; yours may differ.

Keep your anti-virus software updated

This is another thing that’s not a racket. You pick up the security software at the store, and you’ll usually either get a trial period for cheap, or a full year of protection for full-price. This means, once that subscription is ready to expire, the software is going to start reminding you to subscribe for an additional year or two for an additional cost. Do it. New malicious software threats emerge every day, and if you let your computer’s protection get outdated, you’re a sitting duck for hackers and viruses.

Make sure you’ve got spyware protection

A lot of anti-virus software already includes components that deal with spyware, adware and other types of malicious software that aren’t exactly viruses, but you still don’t want. If you want to make double sure, look for a good free anti-spyware tool online and install it. Research thoroughly before you do this; there are tons of fake programs that are themselves spyware, adware, and worse. I used to recommend one called Spybot Search & Destroy, available free from www.safer-networking.org, but I’ve recently heard that it’s not quite as good as it was during its award-winning heyday.

Have a secure wireless connection

The modern wireless Internet protocol is called WPA2. If you’re hooking up a new computer to an existing wireless router, make sure it’s not a WEP connection. Those had major security flaws.

Watch what you click on

There are millions of websites out there that will attempt to install malware on your computer, trick you into falling for a scam, or both. Become very picky about the things you click on; advertisements for $9 auto insurance, debt elimination products, free iPads, or containing the phrases “You’ve Won” and “1 Weird Old Trick” are scams, pure and simple.

Watch what the children click on

Children are a lot less discriminating than adults when it comes to clicking on links, and Facebook does nothing to calm these tendencies. Consider keeping your old computer and making it the official social network/gaming machine and use the new machine for everything that involves business, banking and other important matters. You don’t need your bank passwords getting skimmed by a keylogger because your 10-year-old (who’s not even supposed to have a Facebook account, by the way) clicked on a picture of Justin Bieber.

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About Clint Turpen

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Clint Turpen, marketing specialist at Regional Federal Credit Union, is a certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist. He is an author at Regional Federal Credit Union’s Fraud Prevention Unit Web site. For more information, visit www.fraudpreventionunit.org.

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