Safe Computing: The Art of Staying Safe in the Digital World

Safe Computing: The Art of Staying Safe in the Digital World

With the ubiquity of technology in the modern world, societies have become increasingly dependent on computers and the knowledge which they provide. Since the late 20th century, the advent of personal computers and the Internet has become two of the most notable inventions that have changed our lives. Consumers have been able to effectively access a vast range of information online with the computer, and subsequently the laptop, tablet, and smartphone. With these modern technologies, it’s just a matter of a few seconds until the world can be brought to our fingertips. Yet, the more we rely on computers, the more we become prone to privacy and security threats. With people constantly using computers and the Internet, criminals have exploited the opportunity to obtain access to this online knowledge for illicit motives. You might be a tech professional, or a novice at handling technology; any significant disturbance to business or personal use of the computer may have a huge effect on your personal or professional life. In today’s world, computers are under relentless attack from hackers who try to steal data or simply create chaos with the operations. Hardware malfunctions, malware, phishing, spyware, hacking of identities, and ransomware are just a few of the risks. As a result, there is an ongoing battle between cyber attackers and IT experts who are trying to protect the information networks. 

Because of the potential hazards that cluster around the use of computers and associated technologies, it is critical that the consumers practice safe computing in order to be alert to potential hazards.

What is Safe Computing and why is it important?

Safe Computing refers to both secure behaviors and physical protective measures— such as correct security configurations and device applications, that should be followed in order to stay secure online and protect the device and as well as the information. 

Safe Computing involves guidelines that help users to stay safe and protect their privacy while using technology. Most of these guidelines are very common and are therefore neglected as minor facts by most users. 

Many sensitive information about each and every one of us is gathered and stored, mostly without our knowledge. If you have ever filled an online form or submitted information to an organization that puts its information online, you may have given permission to a third party to access your personal information. Moreover, the data you’re not sharing online such as details on your emails, texts, and calls, your online shopping details, and where you travel; are being accessed by various outside parties. 

The truth is, that our idea of privacy is an illusion and that’s how we have lived for ages.

Therefore, practicing Safe Computing is vital even though its importance is ignored by most. To cause a disaster like a massive loss of vital data, or for you to fall victim to a scam or a data breach, all it takes is one tiny error or a minor item of negligence.

The purpose of this article is to compile the most important and valuable Safe Computing tips. These facts are not novel to most users but are eventually overlooked with little or no recall. 

How to practise Safe Computing?

The first and the foremost step towards Safe Computing is to always be alert. The reason why most people fall victim to computer scams and cyberattacks is refusing to believe that they are a potential target. Thus, keeping yourself informed and up-to-date is necessary. 

The most important tip to follow when it comes to Safe Computing is to Set Strong Passwords. Here are a few basic tips to improve your password security and safeguard the data it protects.

  1. Have a password that is eight or more characters in length.
  2. A strong password should be a mixture of lower and uppercase letters, digits, and other special symbols such as !, @, #, *, etc.
  3. Avoid reusing passwords as this makes you vulnerable in the case of a breach of one account because scammers will attempt to access other accounts with the credentials they have stolen.
  4. It’s best not to use your first name, middle name, or the last name as your password because usually your name and user name are contained in the password file and a number of cracking applications use this knowledge to construct possible combinations of passwords. Furthermore, many password cracking applications have vast naming databases and can quickly formulate name related passwords. Thus, the names of your friends, family, or even fictional characters do not make reliable passwords.
  5. Your password should not be a mere word that is followed or preceded by a number. A common password-guessing algorithm involves attaching numbers to the front and back of a dictionary word. Hence, it is much easier to crack these types of passwords.

While the above are only a few important tips for setting strong passwords and should be taken into consideration when setting a password, it is nonetheless vital to change your password frequently. Changing a password often will add another layer of security to your information.

Keeping your computer up-to-date is essential in the evolving world of computer viruses. Most antivirus software allows users to conduct automatic updates. Updating software should be carried out as a continuous process in order to carry out crucial bug fixes and provide protection enhancements that address current vulnerabilities. 

Enabling a firewall on your device prevents unauthorized parties from accessing your personal data when connected to the Internet. Computers usually have basic firewalls as part of the operating system to help protect computer files from being scanned.

Email and Internet Security are vital when practicing Safe Computing. Ignoring unsolicited emails, scanning all attachments before downloading, and opening only legitimate links from trusted sources allow you to keep viruses off your device. Furthermore, the following steps could be followed to maintain email security and protect from cyberattacks such as phishing.

  1. Check the spelling of the URL in email links, before providing sensitive information.
  2. Redirects from URLs should be watched out for.
  3. Refrain from posting personal information on social media.

When considering Internet Security, it is best to avoid browsing unknown websites because browsers are increasingly becoming one of the computer’s biggest vulnerabilities. Since adware and spyware are explicitly designed to bypass browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer, it’s always best to stick to trusted websites. 

Furthermore, when you are browsing the Internet, it is possible that your information could be exposed. Thus, it is always safe to browse the web via closed or encrypted networks. Only visit sensitive websites— such as e-commerce, shopping, or banking — on a reliable network, only on your own device because your data on a general public wi-fi network could be conveniently replicated or hacked.

Backing up data regularly will guard you against the unpredictable. Valuable information should be stored securely and even storing extra copies in another location is recommended. It is always advised to keep a few months’ worth of backups and ensure that the data can be recovered whenever necessary.  

Controlling access to your device is required in order to prevent theft of the device and thereby the loss of sensitive and valuable data. You should refrain from leaving your computer in an unsecured environment, or leave it unattended and logged on, especially in the public. It is important to lock the screen, in order to prevent unauthorized access. Your machine’s physical protection is as critical as its technological stability. Controlling access to your device also involves being cautious of what external devices you are plugging in; since malware quickly spreads across contaminated external hard disks and flash drives.

Be aware of possible social exploitation attempts, in which a suspect tries to get sensitive information by trickery or coercion. Whether someone is sending an email or telephones demanding confidential personal information, it is generally better to refuse the appeal, call the business to confirm and remind them about your concern about the need for that information. 

Conclusion

In today’s modern world, practicing Safe Computing is not just a requirement but a necessity that needs more effort and extreme diligence. Safe Computing helps the users of technology to stay safe, to minimize their fingerprints in the digital world. 

It is salient to think responsibly of our information and know that even though what we do about it sounds benign — sharing a snapshot, failing to change log-ins and passwords regularly, browsing the web over unencrypted networks, or sharing personal information on social media — we’re potentially taking choices that hold a lifetime of implications. Thus, following these simple yet important guidelines of Safe Computing is becoming more and more essential with each passing day.

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