Computer Safety Day: Tips & Tricks

Last Updated 22 January 2019, 10:26 IST

World Computer Safety Day has been observed since the eighties, with the aim to protect computer devices and personal data. Since the computer is an integral part of day to day life for everyone today, the concern around safety is very high.

And no smart device is exempt from this because every single gadget we own nowadays is a fully functioning computer.

To complement Computer Safety Day, the first Tuesday of February is observed as Safer Internet Day around the world. With evermore rapid advancement in technology, it is imperative to be fully aware of how each of us can protect our devices from unwarranted safety breaches.

Here are a few basic suggestions to ensure the safety of your computer/smartphone/tablet:

1. Know device safety measures and stay updated on best practices:
Each electronic product will have a user manual and instruction guide, which explains how to use the device optimally and protect it from potential threats. Also, every institution and government has their own policy and guidelines for a safe computer experience around its network. These guidelines are periodically updated in tandem with technological advancements, so remember to keep your device up-to-date with system upgrades and such.

Useful links
National Cyber Security Policy
Information security awareness for family

2. Keep the device safe:
You might think this is a no-brainer, but it is equally important to keep your device away from moisture and heat sources. Most of the devices are not water and heat resistant so store them in protected areas or on neutral surfaces. Also, dust and pests are not device-friendly either. Store them in places that are pet-free, dust-free, dirt-free, vermin-free, etc.

3. Use strong passwords:
To access any device or for creating online individual profile accounts, a passcode is mandatory. But with so many devices and accounts to manage, remembering individual account details can sometimes be a pain in the head. Owing to this, and sheer laziness sometimes, we might be tempted to reuse certain passwords. But this is not advisable, warn experts.

Using strong passwords for each account -- which are a mix of alphabets, numbers, special characters, using both lower and upper cases for alphabets -- makes your passwords stronger. Just a mix of words and numbers is no longer safe. And remember not to write down passwords in an easy to find book or place. If you find difficult in memorise all passwords, there are password managers available. These password managers will generate random and strong passwords and store all those passwords in a safe location. Along with this, you can also enable features like two-step verification, facial recognition, etc.

Useful links:

4. Invest in strong anti-virus applications:
Viruses are the worst threat to computers. A virus will break the entire software of the system and some of them can also steal our personal data. Open source operating systems like GNU Linux and Ubuntu and others are somewhat free from virus attacks. But the majority of the people use operating systems Microsoft Windows, which is the most targeted platform for virus attacks. Anti-virus applications can help prevent virus attacks. These software updates their virus database periodically in accordance with virus database updates. Therefore, installing a powerful anti-virus software on our devices and updating it regularly is a smart way to combat these virus attacks.

5. Backup your data in multiple places:
Data loss is one of the key issues connected to computer safety. Once your device crashes, you will likely lose all or most data. To circumvent this, keeping a backup or two handy is always advisable. Store them on different external drives or cloud-based storage options like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.

Useful links:
Google Drive
wikiHow to Back Up Data

6. Be wary of free services:
Free services are available all over the internet. But sometimes these free services, while innocuous on the surface, can be quite deadly internally to your computer. Most of the free services depend on third-party ads financially and some might even breach the security of our devices to steal personal data. If so, you will not even be able to take legal action as you most likely will not be able to find out the source of the attack. While investing in professional software packages may seem costly, it is more prudent a solution than depending on free services to keep your computer safe.

Suggested Reading:
Scores of countries hit by cyber attack using stolen NSA bug
Protect yourself from ransomware attacks

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(Published 30 November 2017, 11:50 IST)

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