9 Ways to Avoid Viruses and Hacking

How to stay safer on your computer

  1. Use an up-to-date antivirus program

I have run the gamut of antivirus programs. Some are free and offer excellent protection for your computer.  I use reviews like PC Magazine reviews to help me make a decision about software. Reviews on this site are less likely to be biased and usually compare features for you. Often, computers come loaded with a trial of an antivirus program which simplifies the choices though they often are not the least expensive options.

2. Keep your software up-to-date

Letting your software become outdated is unwise. One of the primary purposes of updates is to keep software protected from the latest viruses. Hackers can burrow their way into software at an alarming rate but knowing that developers are trying to protect us is somewhat comforting.

3. Don’t click on links within emails

Scammers and hackers use links to get you to go to a site where you may pick up a virus. We like to think that no one wants to harm us and that we are safe as long as we are not on “bad” websites. The truth is that some people are just out to cause mischief and some will try to do us harm. Businesses using online services are particularly vulnerable to hackers. Healthcare institutions have become the latest targets of malware.

Hackers get into the systems and plant viruses that can encrypt the information and programs on their systems. They then send a ransom demand. Once paid they promise to decrypt the system, though they may or may not actually do that.

4. Use strong passwords

Have you ever been “hacked” on social media? Someone said they got a message from you that you didn’t send? It could mean that your password was too weak. Many people use similar passwords for all of their sites. They reason that it is unlikely that someone will try to break in. Today it is more important than ever to have strong passwords. A strong password requires more than just a jumble of letters and numbers it must be long. A lengthy phrase with spaces and a few misspellings is actually more difficult to break than a jumble of letters, numbers, and symbols that is short.

Trying to remember passwords is a huge task. Utilizing a password program can lessen the work.  You remember one password to log in then the program generates strong passwords that can be updated. They range from free to over $50 a year for personal use. Often they work across different devices (set the password on your computer and access it with your phone). There are many to choose from. As with antivirus software, check an online review to select the program that meets your needs and fits your budget.

5. Use a pop-up blocker

Pop-ups are used on many websites as a mechanism to grab our attention. They can be annoying but they have become an almost necessary item. They work, even though they can be bothersome. Using your pop-up blocker can reduce times you have to click out of them. Unfortunately, you may need to unblock pop-ups on some sites to see what you want to see. Hackers can use them to trick you into downloading viruses or take you to sites where this can happen.

6. Be sure your firewall is enabled

This shouldn’t be a significant issue as this should be a default setting for your computer. However, I have been known to accidentally change some of the default settings that are for our good. Check to be sure your firewall is installed. Businesses may use more robust firewalls and may have to use virtual private networks to allow remote access.

7. Back up your computer

Backing up the computer just makes sense.  If everything you need is only available on your physical computer hard drive, even dropping it could ruin documents and important files.  Saving these important files to external drives or web-based platforms like Google Drive could help you avoid disaster.

8. Minimize downloads

While hackers can use passive methods to infect your computer, by far the greatest risk comes from downloading software. The download could contain malware or be a malware program itself. Download from reliable websites. If possible, scan the software before activating any exe. commands.

9. Be alert to scams

Keeping a finger to the pulse of the internet means paying attention to the methods used by hackers. They will do their best to come up with new ways to fool the average computer user. News outlets report on new viruses being propagated (like the current fearful “Goner” virus).

Go Here For Ransomare and Murder: A Jack Sharp, MD Novel by Scott McPherson, MD

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About smcpherson58

Aside from loving chocolate and coffee (not necessarily in that order) Scott McPherson has learned that he loves to write. He writes fiction and, so far, has published two novels. Scott has many varied interests, though he tries to focus on one at a time. He has worked for nearly thirty-five years as a family physician, a pass-time that gives him great pleasure and pays the bills. He has five daughters and dotes upon three grandchildren. Recently married, he really loves life. Scott writes from his life experiences and from travel. His career in the active Air Force was brief, but he has been a member of the Nebraska Air National Guard since just before 9/11 in 2001. The aftermath of that great disaster changed the face of the Guard and led to missions in far-away lands. He has spent time in Turkey, Iraq, Spain, Crete and Guam in missions related to support for Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He has been to Iceland and Antarctica as well. Scott has no personal experience with violent death or murder, but has gained knowledge from experts. In his first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death,” his character, Jack Sharp MD, becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. First as suspect, then as amateur sleuth, Jack tries to make a difference. He finds himself right in the middle of an investigation well beyond the scope of a local murder. A man of faith, Scott traveled to Africa with his small family in the 1980s and served as a medical missionary in Zaire (known as Congo today) with a church organization. The vast difference in what it takes to exist in such an environment served as a basis for much of his second novel, a thriller, “Congo Mission.” His character, Jack, is twenty years younger than in the first novel. In “Congo Mission” Jack serves as a physician in a missionary hospital in the jungles of northwestern Zaire. There he is not only captivated by a young woman visiting the region, but falls victim to his nemesis Jacques Levant. His motivations and faith are tested and his resolve to do God’s work gets pushed to the limit. When he is not writing Scott enjoys walking, a practice that actually led to his first attempt at writing a novel. He began making notes and writing prose about the mundane things around him. He tried to make the details sound interesting, even though it was just for his own pleasure. Eventually he found that he could expand his prose to “what if?” “What if I just kept walking?” “What if I, or my character, found a dead body in the ditch along the side of the path?” That was the premise for the first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death.” Scott McPherson is an avid trombone player and has played since he was nine years old. He marched in the Cornhusker Marching Band at the University of Nebraska and now takes advantage of one free football game a year by playing in the half-time show with the UNL Alumni Marching Band. He plays in the Lincoln Civic Orchestra and a community band from the nearby town of Waverly, Nebraska. Scott loves to sing as well, though his range seems to have diminished in recent years. He has sung in college and church choirs and remembers performing parts of Handel’s Messiah as a highlight of his singing experience. One little-known fact about Scott is that he once sang soprano in a boys choir. Scott plans to keep writing as long as the ideas flow and others show interest in his stories. He loves to interact with other writers or readers about what has become a passion in his life. Reviews are always welcome as are questions and comments.
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