Nearly everyone uses internet-connected devices daily to shop online, search for information, conduct our banking, complete our homework, play games and see what our friends and family are up to. As a result, our devices contain a significant amount of information about us, what we do, what we are interested in and even the people we care about. At the end of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the College of Information Technology is delivering the last in a series of blogs to help keep you and your information safe and secure.
If your devices are not protected, hackers may be able to get access and steal your personal information or use your computer as a “zombie” to send spam that looks like it came from you. In addition, if spyware or viruses wind up on your computer, files may be destroyed and programs may run slowly.
There are a few basic safety measures you can use to protect your devices, protect your privacy and protect your family. Lower your risk with the following tips from the California Department of Justice.
Use Antivirus Software
Antivirus software defends against viruses that can make your device slow down or even crash, erase data or enable spammers to email your contacts from your account. With antivirus protection, your files and email will be scanned for viruses, and any uncovered viruses will be removed. You must also keep your antivirus software updated to counter the latest threats circulating the internet and run full system scans regularly.
Use Antispyware Software
Spyware, installed without you knowing it, takes advantage of your internet connection to collect information about you and see what websites you visit and even what keystrokes you make. Slowed performance, pop-up ads and landing on websites you didn’t navigate to are signs that your device has spyware on it. Your antivirus program may include protection against spyware, so if it does, be sure to activate those protective features.
Monitor Your Children’s Activity
Children can unknowingly compromise your family’s safety online. Teach them practices for safe internet use. To limit which websites young children may visit, add or enable parental control software. You should also set a credit freeze for your children to protect their credit in the future. But in the end, parental supervision is better than any security software you install.
Dr. Richard Bush is the Dean of the College of Information Technology for Baker College of Michigan. He has over 40 years in the information technology industry in positions in government, academics, military, manufacturing, retail and more. His research interests are focused on the acceptance and use of emerging technologies by end users, and trends and impact of the connected world on individuals and groups.