Follow our 20 hints and tips to help you keep your valuable personal information safe
As more of us rely on computers to manage and enjoy our lives, so do we entrust ever more pieces of personal information to their electronic vaults – emails, passwords and bank details, to mention a few.
Considered another way, a PC is a smorgasbord of private data on which any number of ne’er-do-wells would love to feast.
That’s why it is vital to ensure that your computer – and all the personal details that it contains – remains secure. With most PCs now permanently connected to the outside world via the internet, and with wireless home networks increasing, this might seem like a mammoth task.
But in fact, by following some simple rules it is possible to keep intruders out and your personal information safe and sound. With that in mind, here are 20 dos and don’ts of PC security.
Do check Wifi encryption settings
It is probably obvious that wireless networks use radio waves to send and receive data – and anyone with the right equipment and know-how can tune in and decipher those signals.
If you run a wireless network at home or in the office, it is therefore imperative that the data is securely encrypted and protected by a difficult-to-guess password. This is set up in the router’s configuration page, usually accessed via a web browser by typing an address like 192.168.1.1 or similar – check the manual for the specific guidance.
Once logged in, look for the encryption settings and choose Wifi Protected Access (WPA) mode if available. The older Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption standard is no longer considered secure, so don’t use this.
Don’t use the same passwords everywhere
Sometimes obvious advice is the most important. This is never truer than not reusing passwords. It might be easy to remember just one or two code words sprinkled around several sites but it then takes just one security breach – be it from your own PC or as a result of an online service being hacked – for your whole online existence to break down.
If you struggle to remember passwords, then use a password-management tool – all the latest web browsers have them built in.
Do create a spare administrator account
If your PC suffers a crash, perhaps resulting in parts of the hard disk being corrupted, then it is possible that one or more Windows user accounts could become unusable. If this happens to the administrator’s account, it can make recovery that much more difficult.
Alternatively, the main administrator account could be compromised in some way – perhaps by someone guessing the password. In either case, it’s a good idea to create a second administrator account, protected by a different password, to act as a backup.
In this way, you will be able to take back control of the PC if the main administrator account is unavailable. In all versions of Windows, user accounts can be created by following the User Accounts links in Control Panel, from the Start menu.
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