How To Protect Personal Information On Your Computer

By Amy Nutt

With more people using the internet everyday, there has been a significant increase in the threats of online criminals attempting to steal personal information. When you use email, surf the net, and provide financial information to retailers, you have to make sure no one can steal your information. Fortunately, technological improvements in computer security and implementing safety precautions can drastically reduce the chances of having your information stolen.

The following tips are designed to help you protect personal information on your computer:

- Acquire Security Software: It is important that you have the appropriate security software to protect your computer from viruses, hackers, worms, spyware, spam, identity theft, and Adware. A quality and renowned security software program will protect your computer from a variety of security risks. Some software provides a combination of protection methods while others provide just one security function.

- Implement Wireless Security Protection: If you access the internet through a Wi-Fi network, make sure you have the appropriate protection from hackers. With wireless networks, the radio waves travel in the surrounding area, so a hacker sitting nearby can access your connection and hack into your computer.

- Use a Firewall: A firewall adds a security obstruction between a personal computer and the internet. It helps prevents hackers from accessing your computer. It will block any suspicious and unauthorized entry into a computer system.

- Email Encryption: When you use email encryption, it reduces the chances of someone intercepting and accessing your information.

- Beware of Phishing Scams: Many online criminals will send fraudulent emails and use fraudulent websites to gather a person's personal information. Never provide personal information to unknown businesses. Confirm the site is legitimate by either checking with the Better Business Bureau or online sites that expose fraudulent sites and emails. Purchase products from sites that encrypt transaction payments. Encrypting payment information will code your personal and financial data after you submit the payment.

- Beware of Certain Free Download Programs: Some free download software can contain harmful programs. They can allow the person who sent it access to your computer. Security software can prevent these programs from installing. Adware and Spyware are software that can contain these malicious programs.

- Backup Information: Back up and store your information in case your security barrier is breached so you will not lose important information. Store it on a CD or an external hard drive.

- System Security Configuration: Configure your browser or operating system to manage pop-ups, delete cookies, and block specific web sites.

- Change Passwords Regularly: Change your passwords at least every 30 days to reduce the chance of a hacker accessing your online personal and financial information.

- Monitor your Credit Report: You should regularly check your credit report history. This will let you know if anyone has been using your financial information.

When you use the internet for shopping, banking, emailing, and sending instant messages, there are shady people who may try to access your computer to steal your information. Using the latest security software and practicing safe security practices, will reduce the chance of having your personal information stolen and used for illegal purposes. - 30430

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