7 Essential and Basic Computer Security Tips

If you’re into topics like online security, cybercrime, and futurism, this episode of the Tim Ferriss Show podcast is a must-listen. Even if you’re not interested in this stuff, there were some key takeaways that everyone needs to pay attention to.

Tim’s guest on the show was Marc Goodman, a powerful thought leader in the field of cybercrime. Marc’s worked for the FBI, spoken at TED, written about DNA hacking, and in February will be releasing a book called Future Crimes. Check out his site to learn more about him.

At the end of the podcast, Marc listed the top security tips he gives to people that, when taken together, protect most people against roughly 85% of the types of security threats out there.

Here’s a quick summary of these important tips, which constitute both low-hanging-fruit and essential hygiene when it comes to being secure online:

  1. Don’t click on links or open attachments you receive via email, unless you are absolutely certain you know and trust the sender. Many malware infections occur when people accidentally download and install malicious software by clicking on a fake ad or email attachment. So, only click on links and attachments from trusted sources, and be wary of anything that looks too good to be true.
  2. Always apply available software updates to your operating system and apps. One of the best ways to protect your computer is to keep your software up to date. Software updates often include security fixes for vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. So, make sure you’re regularly installing updates for your operating system, web browser, and other programs.
  3. Do not use the same password everywhere- doing so leaves all of your accounts vulnerable if just one of them becomes compromised. The most important computer security tip is to use a strong password that you don’t reuse on other accounts. A strong password should be at least 8 characters long and include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. If you can’t remember your passwords, use a password manager to keep them secure.
  4. Use a trusted password manager app to help keep track of all of your passwords. Some good ones are 1Password, LastPass, and KeePass (which is open source).
  5. Enable 2 factor authentication on your online services.Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your account by requiring you to enter a code from your phone in addition to your password. This makes it much harder for someone to hack into your account, even if they have your password.
  6. Use a VPN when you’re on a public network. A VPN (virtual private network) is a tool that encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a server in another location. This makes it much harder for anyone to snoop on your traffic or track your online activity. So, if you’re concerned about privacy, be sure to use a VPN whenever possible.
  7. Do not use a user account with administrative privileges as your day-to-day computer account. Use a normal, lower-privileged account instead.

Computer security doesn’t have to be complicated. Just following these basic computer security tips can help you stay safe online. So, make sure you’re using strong passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, keeping your software up to date, and being careful about what you click on. And if you’re ever unsure about something, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted source for help.

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