Be Protected

It might be a brand new year, but an old scam is making the rounds of online computer users. The FBI recently issued a warning about a computer scam that begins on the phone: You receive a call from someone claiming to work for a”major software firm.” (Hmm…wonder which one?) They tell you your computer is sending error messages to them over the net, and they have detected a virus.

No issue, however: All you need to do is pay them a fee and they will remotely restore your computer by installing anti-virus applications on it. When the caller has your credit card number and access to your computer, they do not remove viruses, however — they install them. In October, the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on a similar scam which billed computer users from $49 to $450 to”eliminate” malware from their computers.

The agency estimated”tens of thousands” of computer users fell prey to this scam. The best way to overcome these scams is straightforward enough — do not give strangers your credit card numbers or access to your computer.  But let us take a look at eight additional ways you can protect yourself from viruses and malware:

Software makers like Microsoft and Oracle routinely upgrade their software to correct bugs which could possibly be exploited by hackers. Oracle only released on Sunday an update to its Java applications to fix a security gap hackers may have used to infect computers with malware. The software patch came after the Department of Homeland Security sent out an advisory late last week about the security flaw advocating computer users disable the Java plug-in.

Don’t tap on links within emails. A good guideline is if you do not recognize a sender of an email, do not click on any links inside. Microsoft states 44.8 percentage of Windows virus infections happen because the computer user clicked something. You do not have to cover software to protect your computer or to find an yearly subscription to maintain the latest virus protection.

For Windows users, Microsoft Security Essentials is free of charge. See our narrative Antivirus Software is a Waste of Money for more ideas. Do you regularly back up the information on your own computer? If you do not — and 29 percent of computer users fall into that class — you don’t have any protection from calamites which range from hard disk failure

If you prefer your data, back up it.

You have three fundamental backup choices: an external hard disk, online backup service, or even cloud storage. Use a service such as Google Drive, and your documents will be constantly backed up into the cloud. And the price is right: free for up to 5 GB of data. For more, see Online Storage Wars: Which Virtual Storage Is Best?

A strong password is one that’s complex, with a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols. While some folks use the same password for everything, try to prevent that practice.

Password security firm SplashData.com says the three most frequent passwords are password, 123456, and 12345678. The business recommends avoiding using the identical user name/password mix for multiple online site logins. Use a free service such as LastPass to create and manage your passwords.

You only need to remember one passwordthe one which opens your LastPass vault. As soon as you’ve opened it, LastPass will automatically log you in to each website you visit requiring a password. Just because you have antivirus software running does not mean that you have a firewall.