Are you one of those individuals who are still using your computer’s native antivirus security? Unless you’re running Linux or another less-popular OS, you should probably consider beefing up your computer’s security suite. And even if you do have another antivirus program installed… your computer-use habits could be putting you at risk for viruses and malware.
A complete list of every safety tip and trick which the pros use would be incomprehensible to the average computer user and web surfer: so we sifted through some of the greatest recommendations to hand-pick a selection of the four easiest, simplest, and most common-sense security solutions for website and graphic designers.
There’s absolutely no antivirus software that will keep you completely safe. The methods of hackers and the vulnerabilities they exploit are changing so fast, and so continuously, that even the top software won’t be effective all the time. But there’s a big difference between not protected and very protected.
Web browser plugins, Flash, Java, and other commonly-used programs and apps are known for being relatively easily exploited by hackers. But in most cases, a strong, everyday antivirus protection suite can be the essential layer of security which protects you and your computer from malicious individuals. But there’s a caveat to this simple advice: you need to run scans and malware checks regularly for it to be effective. If you don’t, you might as well not have that protection involved at all.
Enable Your UAC
Also called User Account Control, this system add-on was first introduced to Microsoft users with the Windows Vista. When activated, it will force a pop-up to appear before any changes to your system are made, requiring the user to click a button to agree before the changes are made. Luckily, it’s been made less intrusive on more modern iterations of Windows, and it can provide a crucial additional component to your computer safety habits. Ultimately, it prevents hackers or malicious programs from modifying your computer or adding programs without your permission. And if it pops up when you haven’t done anything to prompt it, it’s a good ‘red flag’ system to indicate your computer might have malware.
Enable Your Firewall… Correctly
Many people get frustrated by firewall settings, and simply disable their built-in firewall so that they don’t get irritating pop-ups saying that their firewall is interfering with third-party programs. But the firewall is there to provide an important safety function: it blocks incoming connections. This prevents malware and hackers from listening in to your computer’s activity on a network, and prevents worms like Blaster from spreading through networks.
A great way to begin doing this is to always answer prompts honestly. If your computer’s firewall asks you whether you’re on a home or public network, select the appropriate option. For example, if you select ‘home’ when you’re actually at a public location, other users can see your activity on that network. And whenever possible, avoid entirely de-activating your native firewall.
Uninstall or Update Java
Java is one of many programs which has several known vulnerabilities, and which can reduce the safety of your usual web-browsing habits. Do you know when the last time you updated Java is? Running an out-of-date version of Java magnifies the amount of vulnerabilities on your computer.
But really, you should probably just uninstall Java altogether. Most websites and web applications no longer use Java, so it’s quite unnecessary to have installed at all. And given its many security concerns, simply cutting it out of your computer altogether will leave you safer and more secure.
This tip goes hand-in-hand with another: update your software regularly. Exploitable vulnerabilities are often found in popular software after its release, and the older your versions are, the more likely it is that they have ‘security holes’ which can allow malicious activity. Most updates to programs patch these holes to make programs more secure.