Part of using your laptop for work or fun involves how you keep it safe and in working condition. Here are laptop security mistakes and how to avoid them.
About one-third of all computers in the US harbor destructive malware. And their owners often don’t realize they’re infected until they’ve suffered the consequences, such as losing control of their personal information and online accounts.
But there’s a silver lining: The vast majority of infections occur as a direct result of user error. By avoiding common laptop security mistakes, you can rest easy knowing that your computer and privacy are safe from most cyber attacks. And since laptop users are often more vulnerable to hackers, it’s even more important that you understand the basics of online security.
Keep your data and computer secure from online attackers. Here are 7 laptop security mistakes you should avoid at all costs.
- Connecting to Public WiFi
The major draw of laptops is their portability and convenience. They lend themselves to evenings spent at the nearby coffee shop while you polish off some work. Naturally, that means connecting to public wifi networks to get the job done.
Unfortunately, public networks or anything but safe. Since they’re available to everyone, talented hackers often take advantage of them, too.
While you’re logged into a public network, a hacker can skim your data, passwords, and other online interactions without your knowing. You can never know if you’re safe on a public wifi network, so avoid doing anything more than surfing the web or your data could be at risk.
- Opening Suspicious Emails
You’re probably no stranger to daily phishing calls from supposed debt collectors or IRS agents. What you might not know is some criminals follow the same strategy through emails. These emails may purport to be true, but they expect you to send money or click a link that then infects your computer with a virus.
As a good rule of thumb, you should never open an email with a suspicious subject line, especially when it’s from someone you don’t know. If anyone ever asks you to click a link or download an attachment from an email, it’s best to think twice — even if it’s from a friend. A hacker may have gotten access to their account.
- Avoiding Software Updates
Admit it: You’re guilty of postponing software updates every time the popup appears. While restarting your computer for a Windows update may seem burdensome, it’s best to get it out of the way as soon as possible. Regular software updates often contain critical security fixes.
And by stalling, you leave your computer at risk.
If you have to postpone a Windows update, make sure you install the new patch by the end of the day. And keep in mind that an operating system isn’t the only thing that requires updates. Make sure your internet browser and antivirus always have the latest patches.
- Creating Simple Passwords
You probably have at least a dozen online accounts. That’s a lot of passwords to keep track of. No wonder you may want to use easy-to-remember codes to keep everything simple.
But if it’s easy for you, it’ll be easy for hackers, too. Bad actors can do something known as a brute-force attack, which tries different password combinations until it finds yours. It’s sort of like testing every combination on a bike lock.
Powerful passwords with special accents, capital letters, and numbers protect you from these types of attacks. If you think you can’t keep them straight, then take advantage of a password manager. This software creates complex passwords for you and locks them behind several layers of protection, so only you can have access.
- Ignoring Antivirus Software
Most operating systems contain some form of antivirus software by default. But default protection only goes so far. Since it’s the most pervasive, it’s also something hackers try to exploit on a regular basis.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to have a more robust security solution in place. There are plenty of options to choose from, but supplementing your Windows Defender with Malwarebytes is a popular choice.
If you think malware passed through your active antivirus, use a scan on your supplemental software for more insight. But what if you’re running on a Macbook? Then read more about malware removal Mac.
- Surfing Without AdBlock
Even with great computer security knowledge, you can still fall victim to malware. Even on some of the most popular sites on the web, malicious advertisements sneak through the vetting process. These can infect your machine without requiring you to interact with them.
To protect yourself from these wildcards, install some form of AdBlock extension on your internet browser. You can simply whitelist sites you trust to continue showing your support and providing revenue to keep them online.
- Visiting Dangerous Websites
Some websites are malicious by nature and purposely try to infect visitors. These are commonly found if you ever look for an online download. Never assume a website is safe.
If you have a bad feeling about a site based on its name or metadata, don’t visit it. Instead, input the URL on a website safety checker. These tools will scan the safety of the website in question and let you know if it’s safe to enter.
Even then, be careful when you visit. Even if the website is secure, its advertisements may not be.
Avoiding Laptop Security Mistakes
There’s no avoiding the prevalence of computers in this day and age. And for that reason, you should know how to stay safe while you’re using yours.
With solutions to the most common laptop security mistakes, you’ll be in a better position to browse safely, without fear of losing your personal data or access to your computer.
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