If you’re like most people, you’re surrounded by technology. Between computers, phones, tablets and a variety of “smart” gadgets, you might even be overwhelmed some days. All of this technology, though, requires protection so that it works like it should and keeps your data secure. If you aren’t quite sure how to protect your technology, try some of the following ideas.
Use a Surge Protector
First, make sure that you have the proper surge protection for all of your devices. This usually means using a surge protector power strip for your computer, monitor and printer. You can also plug your phone and tablet into a surge protector while they’re charging. Surges can happen at any time, and that jolt of electricity can damage your technology. Lightning storms are particularly risky. You should actually unplug your devices during a storm, but if you can’t, at least make sure they’re plugged into a surge protector.
Next, always use anti-virus software on your computer and on your other devices if needed. Most Windows computers come with such software pre-installed, but you must turn it on and keep it up-to-date. Apple computers and devices also come with integrated security. If you think, however, that this isn’t quite enough for you, you can subscribe to a separate anti-virus program for an added layer of protection. Also consider using anti-malware software, especially if you think your computer may have been infected.
Other devices like phones and tablets may or may not require anti-virus software depending on their brand and your situation. If you ever feel like your device is at risk, be on the safe side, and install a program to scan for viruses.
Also, keep your computer and other devices up-to-date with operating system upgrades and patches. When your tech gadgets present you with updates, install them as soon as possible. Many of these patches fix security gaps that could make your technology vulnerable. So even though updating can be a nuisance, make an effort to do it often.
For the sake of safety, your technology requires strong passwords. Your should use different passwords for various apps and accounts, and make them difficult for people to guess. Combine lower-case letters, upper-case letters, numbers and symbols in various ways. A password like “catperson3” is not especially strong, but “cAt#perSon%3” is much better.
Be sure to change your passwords at the first sign that any device or account may be compromised. Don’t hesitate for an instant. You might also get into the habit of changing your passwords on a rotating cycle. If you’re concerned about remembering your passwords, especially if you change them frequently, use a password manager, or simply write them in a notebook that you store in a safe place.
The Internet can be a risky place for your technology, but you can minimize that risk with safe browsing. First, be careful which websites you visit. Usually stick to ones that you know, and if you look at new sites, check their security status. If your browser warns you that a site isn’t safe, back away immediately. Always keep your anti-virus software running when you browse.
Shop safely online, too. Never enter your personal information or make a purchase through a website that does not have proper encryption. Look in the address line on your browser. You should see something that looks like a little padlock. Mouse over that to check site security. If that padlock is missing, don’t enter information or make purchases. Your privacy is at risk. Shop elsewhere.
As technology increases, so do technology-based scams. You probably get scam emails all the time. They might claim that you have missed a package delivery, won a prize or need to deal with a locked account. Some of these look legitimate, but you can tell they aren’t if you mouse over the sender’s name. The email address will appear, and it will look like gibberish. That’s how you know you’re dealing with a scam rather than a real email from a company.
When in doubt, always visit the company’s website to check your account or contact customer service. Never click on links in an email. They could lead you straight to sites that will steal your personal information, infect your device with a virus or malware or both.
Technology is tricky, and using it will always involve some level of risk. However, if you take the proper precautions and follow the above advice, you’ll be able to protect your technology and your personal information.