1. Make sure your router has a firewall. Others may suggest that you switch your internet router off when you are not using the internet. The reason behind this is that hackers tend to target “always on” connections. The premise is that if your internet connection is more sporadic, you’ll be less attractive to them. However, with all your devices at home connected to the internet, turning your router on and off can be impractical and inconvenient. The solution to this is to secure your internet at its entry point (the router) with a firewall.
A firewall in your router is your first line of defense from cybercriminals. Its main task is prevent unwanted traffic from entering your network. It protects your computer from malicious attacks that might try to delete or steal information (e.g. passwords or banking details) or crash your computer.
A free router is usually provided by your internet service provider when you sign up with them. Make sure that it has a decent firewall. You may also opt to upgrade the firmware on many routers (e.g. Tomato or DD-WRT) to improve the security amongst other things.
2. Create a decent firewall for your computer. Yes, there’s another firewall for your computer. Depending on which operating system (OS) you have on your computer, you might already have a firewall and it’s usually turned on by default. Don’t attempt to turn off your firewall.
Moreover, if you want something with more flexibility with your firewall, you can check other options that are compatible with your OS. For Windows users, there’s Comodo Free Firewall and ZoneAlarm Free Firewall. Whilst Linux users can opt for ClearOS, IPCop, or Monowall. They come with additional features and configuration options and offer more protection than the built-in firewall alone.
3. Install a reliable antivirus software. An antivirus is never an option. It’s a must for everyone, and should regularly be updated. To avoid the hassle of manually scanning your PC for viruses, spyware, and malware, set your antivirus to automatically scan all your drives daily, bi-weekly, weekly, or monthly.
You may also turn on the automatic updates to help protect your computer from the latest Internet threats by delivering security updates right to your computer as soon as available. You can also install a secondary antivirus app as your extra layer of security for that deeply embedded malware your primary antivirus may not be able to detect or remove.
4. Avoid dodgy websites. Train your eyes to spot fake, fraudulent or scam websites. They designed to spread malicious files and infect your computer with a virus. If you have doubts about a website, then don’t download or install anything.
If the website is asking for a personal information, make sure it is secured before giving away your information. Look for security features like the little padlock symbol in front of the web address in the URL bar. Also, make sure the web address starts with the prefix https://. If these things aren't there, then the network isn't secure and you shouldn't enter any personal data especially your credit card number.
5. Avoid inserting hard drives and thumb drives from 3rd parties. If you don't trust the source, you're better off not putting your computer at risk. If you must, run it first on your antivirus software.
6. Keep an eye out for phishing scams. A phishing scam is an email or website that's designed to look as normal email or website but are meant to steal information from you. The hacker uses this to install malicious software onto your computer. Phishing scams are typically easy to spot, but you should know what to look out for. Many of these emails contain spell errors and are written in poor grammar. Some offer hard-to-resist promos that will require you to provide personal data. Remember: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
7. Review the permissions being requested before installing apps. Downloading apps or games has become a pastime for us, but be careful. This is one of the most common ways in which malicious apps can gain access to your personal information. You’d be surprised that even in the Google Play store these types of issues exist. It's important to be aware of the types of information your apps are accessing, which can include your contacts, location, and even your phone's camera.
8. Don't use the same password for multiple services. Imagine giving a hacker one key to everything. Using the same term/word for all of your passwords leaves your entire digital life vulnerable to attack. The key is to always use strong and unique password(s). And, if possible, one for every account. Your password should be difficult to guess. One way to come up with a creative password is to use random words. Include lowercase and capital letters and/or add numbers and special characters. You may also use online password generators like LastPass to help you create a secure password.
9. Enable two-factor authentication. If your e-mail service offers a two-factor authentication option, make use of it. A two-factor authentication means that instead of simply entering a username and password to log in, the website will ask you to enter a code sent to your smartphone to verify your identity. Maybe a little hassle but definitely worth the peace of mind.
10. Apply software updates when necessary. Apple, Google, and Microsoft once in a whilst releases security bug fixes and patches in their most recent software updates. Don't ignore those annoying prompts and keep your software up-to-date.