The invention of the computer, internet, and all of the devices that have been made for use with it have changed the world. Information, ideas, and even things like this article can be accessed at nearly the speed of light. In the mainstream, this technology is great, and the people’s use of it even better, leading to Time Magazine’s naming of “YOU” as Person of the Year for the way that we, as a whole use the internet. But as with anything that’s good, there is also a bad side. These same computers can be used to steal from us, find out more about us, and spy on us by those people who would do such things.
A computer is the easiest way for someone to get private information about you. One of the most known and destructive ways is identity theft, but there are many other ways that your computer can be used to get information about you.
To help fight these people, and let less of your information out, never let someone else on your personal computer (or set up users when on a shared computer), turn off all third party cookies (those that are used by advertisers)-or turn off all cookies (if you don’t mind some sites not working properly, and clear your history as much and as often as possible. These things will help cut down on the number of people that have access to your personal information-and maybe even help reduce junk mail, but not all snoops are that easy to foil.
Which brings us to spyware and viruses. Hackers can create programs that track everything you do online, even when you are being careful. They can even control your computer and periferals. The only way to get rid of and protect yourself from spyware and viruses is to have good prevention, detection, and removal programs installed on your computer. One program won’t catch everything, but it will catch much of what can come in. The author recommends having one program to combat viruses, one to combat spyware, and one that combats both, something like Norton 360. Redundant programs of this type cannot hurt, and could possible help keep hackers out of your computer. Another tip, always update these programs whenever they show that you have updates. Having the newest updates protects you from the newest problems.
Hackers can use periferals to spy on you, and sometimes the best detection systems don’t catch this.They can use your microphone to hear or your webcam to see. If you see anything turn on when you are not using it, do your scans immediately. Even if you do not find anything and the periferal turns on, remove the offending hardware if you are concerned about security. Also, in the case of a webcam, a piece of tape works wonders.
More and more people are storing information on the internet instead of on their own computer. These storage services are email, backup storage, and even those services where you can acess your computer from another one. This information can be read while in transition and is not protected by the same legal restrictions as data in your home. You no longer are in complete control over it. If you want to back up your computer, it is safer to buy an external hard drive; if you want acess to your computer at any time, it is best to get a laptop. As for email that is on your own computer, use an encription program (a good one is Mozilla’s Thunderbird) to encrypt your email. If your email is online, look up your account prferences and find an option to connect using https to encrypt your connection to your email, but that won’t encrypt the email itself.
Protecting yourself from…yourself?
Watch what information that you yourself send out to the world at large, especially when it could come back to haunt you. People have been fired or lost a job opportunity over certain pictures or information that they have posted themselves. Also, the information is a great way for potential stalkersto find you. When you put something out there on the web, it may not go away entirely, even if you delete it. So try not to send out anything you don’t want others to know, ever.
The only way to keep your computer and the information inside it entirely safe from remote manupulation is to unplug it from the internet. And the only way that you can protect yourself from digital snoops of any kind is to get away from the technology completely. But that measure is unnessesary if you are not doing anything illegal.