By Ashley Nielsen
Everyone is vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Businesses can be hacked at any point, giving hackers information to customer data, such as credit card numbers. However, individuals can also be hacked at any point, with hackers gaining access to bank accounts and social security numbers, allowing them to steal from you. In addition, hackers gain access to devices like laptops to steal information. Still, you can protect your laptop from cyber attacks by practicing good habits and installing software to protect you and your important information.
Businesses are especially prone to cyber-attacks because they store customer data, giving a hacker access to the financial information of thousands of people in one single hack. Therefore, businesses must protect their business equipment to protect their employees and customers.
Hackers can go after anyone or any business for several reasons. However, when an individual is hacked, it’s typically because a hacker wants access to your finances. Whether you use your laptop for work or at home, it’s important to keep it protected and secure so that no one can gain access to your financial information. Here’s how to protect your laptop from cyber attacks.
Install Antivirus Software
Computers can get viruses from anywhere, including emails and websites. Antivirus programs can protect your laptop against any unauthorized software that may get downloaded on your computer. Sometimes you can tell when you have a virus because your laptop might slow down or freeze. However, some viruses are inconspicuous and hard to detect. Antivirus software can protect your laptop in real-time to keep your data safe and ensure your computer is running optimally.
Advanced protection software offers automatic updates to help protect your laptop from new viruses that old software may not know about. In addition, software allows you to schedule virus scans automatically to keep your computer and important data safe. You need antivirus software to keep your data safe whether you’re a business, work from home, or an individual.
Use a Firewall
Laptops now have built-in firewalls designed to prevent your information from getting out. Firewalls block unauthorized access to your network and can alert you if there are any attempts to hack your computer. The firewall should always be enabled when you’re online, and you can purchase a hardware firewall from many different vendors, including Cisco and Fortinet. In addition, your broadband router has a firewall that can protect your network but not necessarily your computer, so if you want to secure your laptop, it’s best to have an additional firewall.
Anti-spyware is similar to antivirus software in that you install it on your computer to prevent an attack. However, spyware is a type of software that collects your information from your computer and is not easily detectable and removable. Spyware typically delivers unwanted ads that take you to malicious websites and can record keystrokes, giving hackers your passwords and access to your information. Anti-spyware software focuses exclusively on this type of malicious software, but you can get it in many major antivirus programs, including McAfee and Norton.
Use Better Passwords
Gone are the days when you could use a simple, easily rememberable password. Now, simple passwords can be easily hacked, making you susceptible to cyber attacks. Creating complex passwords is the best way to protect your laptop and financial information. The harder your passwords are to guess, the harder it is for a hacker to get into your data.
Unfortunately, security requires a longer, more complex password of at least eight characters and a combination of numbers, different cases, and symbols.
It’s typically best not to use any real words, birthdays, or other personal information that someone can use against you to break into your accounts.
Additionally, it’s best to avoid reusing passwords. If you have a hard time remembering passwords, you can use a password manager like LastPass to help you manage all of your complex passwords without having to remember them. Instead, you’ll only need to remember one.
Stay Up to Date
If there are updates for your operating system, apps, or browsers, it’s best to install them immediately. Most updates offer improved security measures to further prevent hackers from accessing your data. Web browsers are becoming more sophisticated, so always make sure your browser is up to date with the right security settings.
Ignore Spam Emails
If you sign up for marketing emails, you likely trust the sender. However, if you see emails from a sender you don’t know, it’s always best to ignore them because spam emails typically contain viruses. Additionally, if you do look at an email from an unknown sender, never click on links or open attachments that can put viruses on your computer. Phishing scams get cleverer every year, so emails may look like they’re from trusted parties even though they aren’t. If you ever get an email from your bank that seems suspicious, call them immediately to let them know.
Don’t use unsecured public Wi-Fi. If you’re in a public place and can connect to the Wi-Fi without a password, it isn’t secure and has no security features to ensure you’re safe while browsing the internet. Public sources such as these are targets for hackers, so it’s always best to avoid them when possible. If you are going to use public Wi-Fi, ensure that your firewall is turned on and all antivirus software is working properly.
Back Up Your Data
Regularly backing up your data can ensure you never lose data. Home computers are often targeted by ransomware attacks, allowing hackers to lock computers up and prevent users from their files. You can back up your files by using a cloud storage system to ensure you’ll always have access to important information and data.
Hackers get smarter every year, which is why you always hear about corporations that were hacked. Even though these companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on IT infrastructure, they can still fall victim to cyber-attacks. Even individuals that don’t have the right software or good computer habits can easily become a victim. Don’t let someone steal your financial information. Instead, keep your laptop and other devices protected.
Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer where she shares knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness or financial tips. During her free time she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.