5 Tips to Keep Your Home Computer Safe and Your Network Secure

According to identitytheft.info, around 15 million residents in the US have their identities used fraudulently each year. This represents an average loss of $3,500 per incident, and the trend is only growing. Cybercriminals are becoming ever more sophisticated in the methods they use to intrude your home network and steal your personal information. What are you doing to protect your family’s computers and home network? Here are 5 tips to guide you in the process.

How to Keep Your Home Computer Safe

You cannot afford to leave your home network open and vulnerable to intruders. It takes a little bit of time and effort, but the consequences of not protecting it could be devastating.

Backup Your Data

Data loss can occur for many reasons, so it is a good idea to back up your data anyway. However, one of the newest types of ransomware actually encrypts your sensitive data, making it unavailable to you. Backing up your data frequently will protect against this type of risk. You can either back it up manually with an external hard drive, or you can utilize a professional backup service online. Check with your antivirus provider as well.

Secure Your Wireless Router

This is a huge area of vulnerability for many home networks. You can protect yours with just a few measures. Change the name of your router from the default set by the manufacturer to one unique to you. You will also want to change the pre-set password on your router to one that uses a mixture of numbers, letters, and symbols. Lastly, set your router’s level of security to WPA2 or WPA in lieu of WEP. If you can, set a separate guest password for visitors to your home.

Be Smart Online

If something online seems strange or off, it probably is. Make sure your banking sites are secure (https://) with a green lock in the address bar. Rogue sites are often used to collect sensitive data. Never click on links in emails, but go directly to the website indicated. Avoid anything that looks too good to be true, and never divulge your sensitive information unless you know it is a trusted site. Avoid unknown emails and never click on their attachments. You are not the only living relative of a recently deceased prince in Nigeria, sadly enough.

Check Your Firewall

In Windows, type “firewall” in your control panel. Make sure it is listed as “on” or “connected”. On a Mac, click on the Apple icon in the toolbar. You will find it under “system preferences”, then “security”, then “firewall.” Your firewall will serve as a guard to keep hackers out of your home network system.

Keep Software Up-to-Date

This is one of the easiest and best defenses against malware, viruses, and various online threats. Simply make sure you always have the latest versions of your security software, the web browsers you use, and your computer’s operating system. All of these can be configured to auto-update.

Be Smart, Be Safe

Cybercriminals will target home networks and computers with little or no protection in place. Don’t leave your family vulnerable to the risk of data loss and identity theft, but keep your home computer safe. The danger is real and growing. Take these precautions and sleep well knowing you have defended your cybercastle.