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Don’t know where to start when it comes to protecting yourself from information breach and loss? We’ve made it as easy as possible with this guide to basic computer safety.

 

Back It Up!

That “uh oh” feeling as your computer takes a last gasping breath? We’ve all been there. But a computer crash won’t lead to complete data loss if you regularly back up the information stored on it. You can use a cloud-based platform or go old school with a thumb drive. Treasured photos, family recipes, business records—it takes just seconds to protect them all. 

 

Get Smart About Passwords

A little sloppiness here can have a huge impact on your personal and professional life. Stay vigilant with these tips:

  • Mix things up. You know you’re not supposed to use the same password everywhere, but many people do. The problem? If a cyberthief figures out your Facebook password, he or she can access every area of your personal, financial, and business life.
  • Change them often. Not only do you need to create different passwords for different sites, but you need to switch them up often. Many companies require employees to change on-the-job passwords once a month, and it’s a good practice at home, too.
  • Get a manager. A password management tool can be a lifesaver in the modern world. These tools (some of which are free) come up with impossible-to-guess passwords, store them all for you, and then fill them in automatically as needed.

 

Protect Yourself

Cyber criminals release new versions every day, making them a constant threat to your information. What to do?

  • Load up on software. Install anti-virus programs that not only safeguard your computer against viruses that are already out there, but the ones that are coming. (Today’s technology can read patterns and predict stuff like this.)
  • Go automatic. Set your software to update on a regular basis so you don’t have to add that step to your to-do list.
  • Know your email. Many viruses find their way inside your computer via emails, so it’s worth your time to brush up on how to spot a dangerous email.
  • Watch your plugs. It’s never a good idea to plug someone else’s USB stick into your computer.
  • Got HTTPS? When making an online purchase with your credit card, be sure you’re using an HTTPS connection. That “s” is crucial because it means your info is being scrambled.

 

Kill it With Fire

Firewalls are a must if you ever venture onto the web—and who doesn’t? In essence, a firewall stops uninvited info from coming into your computer. Operating systems come with firewalls, but you can double up on security by purchasing a standalone product, too.

 

Physical Blockers

We often think of bad guys hijacking your data from behind a screen thousands of miles away. But it can happen in the real world, too.

  • Guard your screen. Using a computer in public locations (think a coffee shop or airport) is incredibly common. Installing a screen guard, a filter that attaches to your monitor, masks what’s on your screen unless you’re sitting directly in front of it.
  • Lock it up. If thieves steal your computer, they might be able to access the valuable info on it. Be sure to hide electronics if you must leave them in your car, and use a theft deterrent like a physical or fingerprint lock on your computer.

 

If you believe your computer has been compromised, F&M Bank may be able to help. We offer multiple resources to customers who’ve experienced cyber fraud.

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