Computer security measures will help safeguard your personal information. Reduce the risk of fraud and identity theft by keeping your computer updated with some basic security tools. It's easy to equip your computer with proper protection that can help secure your information.

Protect Personal Information by Securing Your Computer

A properly protected computer provides for a safer online experience. The only way to eliminate all security risks is to turn your computer off or disconnect it from the internet. You can however, minimize the risk of falling victim to online threats by following the tips listed below.

  • Keep your operating system updated: Install all software updates that are made available for your computer programs regularly. These updates can include software "patches" to close holes in the system that spyware could exploit.
  • Use a current Web Browser: Newer security-minded browsers are being deployed regularly. Use the browser recommended for the Web sites you are visiting and check for built-in security features.
  • Activate a Pop-up Blocker: Many newer browsers have pop-up blocking built in. If your browser doesn't, install and activate a pop-up blocking tool. Pop-ups can download unwanted viruses without your knowledge. Never enter personal information in response to a pop-up ad.
  • Download free software only from sites you know and trust: It can be appealing to download free software like games, peer-to-peer file-sharing programs, customized toolbars, or other programs that may change or customize the functioning of your computer. Be aware, however, that some of these free software applications bundle other software, including spyware.
  • Don't install any software without knowing exactly what it is: Take the time to read the end-user license agreement (EULA) before downloading any software. If the EULA is hard to find — or difficult to understand — think twice about installing the software.
  • Minimize "drive-by" downloads: Make sure your browser security setting is high enough to detect unauthorized downloads, for example, at least the "Medium" setting for Internet Explorer. Keep your browser updated.
  • Protect your passwords: Memorize your PINs and passwords. Do not share your password. Change your passwords frequently.
  • Digital certificates: Legitimate Web servers can differentiate themselves from illegitimate sites by using digital certificates; Web sites using certificate authentication are more difficult to spoof. Consumers can use the certificate as a tool to determine whether a site is trustworthy.
  • Install Anti-spyware protection: Make sure your computer has an anti- spyware protection program that detects and removes all forms of spyware, which can steal vital information. Keep your anti-spyware program updated to remain current and protected from any new virus threats.
  • Install Anti-virus protection: Make sure your computer has an anti-virus protection program that detects and removes viruses. Software from major providers will protect you from a wide variety of threats, and also provides customer service in case you have questions. Be sure to always keep your anti-virus program updated.
  • Consider the use of a personal firewall: A firewall is a system that blocks unauthorized access to your computer and will alert you if spyware already on your computer is sending information out.