Hacking is a major issue, and hackers use many tricks in an attempt to access your data. There are steps you can take to protect yourself and your data from the most common hacking methods.
Anti-virus software (Norton, McAfee, Sophos, etc.)
- One of the most important steps you can take is to run an anti-virus program. If cost is a concern, there are free anti-virus programs such as AVG http://free.grisoft.com/freeweb.php/doc/1/ or Microsoft's Security Essentials http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security_essentials/default.aspx You must make sure that you keep your anti-virus program updated by downloading the latest virus definitions. It is important to remember that you should only run one anti-virus program on any given computer.
- Most spam will not cause harm, however the best practice is to delete emails from unknown sources and those with attachments. If you reply or attempt to unsubscribe, this will confirm to the spammer that your account is active and in use.
- "Malware" or "spyware" are terms used to describe malicious software that can be used to cause denial of service attacks or harvest sensitive data (credit card numbers, etc.) from your computer. These programs can cause you to receive pop-up ads and/or track your web surfing habits. Attachments can be harmful to your computer and can carry malicious viruses and malware. There are tools available, such as Spybot Search and Destroy or Ad-Aware, that scan your computer and identify malware and other harmful items. Once found, these programs give you the option to delete the items. These programs also need to be updated so that you have the most current versions.
- Virus writers and hackers will exploit holes in programs to gain access to your computer. To keep your computer up to date with the latest security fixes and patches, visit http://update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate on a routine basis. If are you running an Apple or Linux machine, be sure to check routinely for updates also.