Computer Security

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Your computer (including your mobile device) may contain a gold mine of personal data that's vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves. Take the following steps to safeguard this information:

Store as little personal information on your computer as possible. Instead, store the information on a CD that you can keep locked in a secure location.

When shopping online, look for two critical things on the ordering page before placing any online orders: 1) a lock icon in the bottom-left or top-right corner, which indicates that the site uses encryption when transferring your personal information (including your credit card information), and 2) the letters "https" instead of just "http" in the URL, which also indicates that the ordering site is secure.


Use anti-virus software on your computer. Most viruses today are introduced into computers via internet downloads and e-mail. So your anti-virus software should scan all in-bound e-mail or software, alert you to any viruses or questionable elements, quarantine the questionable content or delete it and cease the application, and remain active in the background, constantly scanning for and protecting your computer from potentially harmful content.

Remember that anti-virus protection is only as good as your last update. Updating is simple and can be done automatically at startup, when you can have the program automatically log onto the manufacturer's website and download the most recent definitions for new viruses.

Don't store any credit card information on a website. While this may be more convenient, it's much less secure.

Use one credit card exclusively for online shopping. This way, if the card information is compromised, you only have to cancel one card and can continue using another one.

If you plan to give away or sell an old computer, completely erase (or "scrub") the hard drive. A tech-savvy thief can recover even deleted information. Free downloadable programs are available to help you do this, such as CodeTek's Safeshred Free for Macintosh.