7 Tips to Secure Your Home Computer

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secure your home computer

Computers have become such an important part of our lives — for accessing information, keeping in touch with friends and family, shopping, working, and other activities — that it's easy to overlook the risks of using them. We rely on computers so much that many of us neglect the importance of PC security to keep our passwords, credit card numbers, and other personal information safe from identity thieves.

To help keep your computer and information safe, we've compiled a list of seven computer security tips to follow that can reduce your chances of being an identity theft victim by enhancing your PC's security:

  1. Never open unsolicited e-mail.
    Always delete unsolicited e-mail, and never, ever, click on a link in an e-mail from someone you don't know. Doing so could infect your computer with a virus.
  2. Use strong passwords that are impossible for a thief to guess.
    Use a different password for each login, and make sure that each password is a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. People who use the same passwords for everything make it easy for thieves to steal their identities.
  3. Install antivirus software and keep it updated.
    There are many good antivirus programs online that people can download free or for a donation. Download at least three, run them at least once a week, and keep them updated.
  4. Protect your computer with a firewall.
    A computer firewall creates a virtual wall between your computer and thieves who want to access your personal information. Hardware and software firewalls help keep your computer safe when you're online.
  5. Don't share your personal information online.
    Social networks are fun and great for connecting with friends, but thieves use them to trick people into providing their personal information . You wouldn't share your private information with a stranger on the street, so don't share it with a stranger online, either, no matter how long you've "known" them.
  6.  Keep your operating system updated.
    When your computer operating system tells you an update is available, update it as soon as possible, and get in the habit of keeping it updated at all times to thwart identity thieves.
  7. Be wary of fake antivirus notifications and other scareware.
    Antivirus viruses, also known as scareware, trick users into thinking that they have a computer virus in order to frighten them into providing their credit card information to download an "antivirus program" that will remove it. If you have scareware installed on your machine, disconnect your computer from the Internet, call a computer tech to remove it, and remember to never provide any personal information in the pop-ups that appear on your screen.
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