Along with the ghosts and goblins running around town this month, there are also some spooks lurking online, seeking out ways to spread viruses or part you from your cash or personal information. Here, 5 tips to keep your computer safe.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and The U.S. Department of Homeland Security have these Halloween-inspired tips that will help you stay safe while you work, play and shop online.
1. Don’t trust candy from strangers.
Anyone with an internet connection can write and publish anything they want at any time, but that doesn’t make it true. Never accept any statement or advertisement as fact — instead do your research. You can find out if a source is reliable by checking them out at the BBB’s website.
2. Don’t be tricked into falling for an offer that is too good to be true.
This happens all the time. You get an email that seems like a great deal but in the end it will still ask you for your credit card information ‘just to cover shipping costs’. The ‘free’ product will then be shipped and charged to you every month after the first order, at cost – not free at all.
There are also those emails and pop-ups that offer incredible prizes like a new iPad just for taking their survey, from rich strangers offering to send you money, or ‘companies’ claiming you won a sweepstakes – they are all after your account information.
These are never legitimate and you should mark them as ‘spam’ or ‘phishing scam’ in your email so your provider can report them and put a stop to the emails. Stay away from pop-ups that advertise free software downloads as well. These are where viruses come from.
4. Don’t leave “treats” out in the open.
It is a smart practice to protect your personal data by always locking your computer when you are away from it, using anti-virus software and firewalls, installing appropriate software updates and using strong passwords. Hackers and viruses are always scanning for available computers to target, so don’t leave yours vulnerable.
5. Don’t throw caution to the wind.
In the event of an equipment malfunction, error or cyber attack, all your information could be lost instantly. Avoid this by always backing up your work. Regular backups on a simple external hard-drive will ensure you always have access to your files.