Maintaining the security of cyberspace is a shared responsibility in which each of us plays a critical role. Awareness of computer security essentials will improve the security of Indiana’s information infrastructure and economy. By taking a few simple steps, individuals and organizations can help ensure their safety and security, and protect important information like financial documents, health records, photos, and more.
Use strong passwords
- All passwords should be the strongest you can use and remember.
- Strong passwords are at least eight characters long and use combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation.
- Strong passwords contain words typically not found in a dictionary.
- Adding emoticons, if possible, can make a password more memorable and boost strength.
- Do not use the same username and password on multiple websites. Hackers can find that information and use it to access your information on many other sites.
Use security software tools
- Anti-virus software can be used to detect and remove viruses from computers. Configure your anti-virus program to perform a full scan every week, and ensure the “automatic update” settings are configured to keep the program up-to-date and working correctly.
- Install a firewall. Firewalls control the flow of information between your computer and the Internet. When information coming into or going out of your computer does not meet the “safety rules,” the firewall blocks that information to prevent the transfer of any dangerous or harmful material. For tips on how to install a firewall, contact your Internet service provider.
Do not open unsolicited or unknown emails
- Often in these emails the senders want the recipient to click on a link that will install malevolent software, known as malware, onto the computer.
- The email may have a provocative subject line, logos from a well-known company or use the return address of an acquaintance.
- If from a company, verify the email address before opening any links or attachments.
- If clicking on a link or opening an attachment in an email is required, make sure anti-virus software is up-to-date.
- Save files to the hard drive, scan them with the anti-virus software and then open the file.
Know whom you are dealing with online
- Never run a program unless you know it is from a person or company you trust. Do not send programs of unknown origin to others.
- Be alert when file-sharing. File-sharing is often used to download music, games, and software through an informal network of computers running the same software. Without checking the program’s privacy settings, others may be able to gain access to information on your hard drive such as tax information, emails, photos, and other personal documents. You may also unwillingly download pornography or copyrighted material labeled as something else.
Keep your web browsers & operating system up-to-date
- Patches and updates for software are released when vulnerabilities have been discovered. Some companies release updates at a consistent time each month. Keep an eye out and check for available updates to your software and operating system.
Back up important files
- Use a flash or zip drive to back up any important files or information you may have on your computer. Software backup tools are also available.
Be cautious when shopping online
- Be wary if the price for the item you’d like to buy is severely undervalued. If it is, it is likely fraudulent.
- If you are on an auction site and lose an auction and the seller contacts you later saying the original bidder fell through, the situation is likely a scam.
- Use only well-known sites, and make sure they are secured and authenticated before purchasing an item.
- If looking for a car, research car dealerships to determine if they are real and how long they have been in business.