How to Keep Your Computer Network Safe
With every business and every home having some kind of computer network in place, the threat of a cyber attack is very real, very present, and very dangerous. There seems to be news of new security breaches on a regular basis, some more serious than others, and this can cause alarm to many people who are going to want to ensure their computing systems are safe and secure, whether they run a business or they have a home network they enjoy playing computer games on. The problem is the same for everyone, as are the solutions. Here are some of them.
Get the Knowledge
Although not essential, having a cyber security masters degree online means that you will have in-depth knowledge of just how these cyber attacks happen, what the criminals are looking for, and how to stop them. It depends how far you want to go when it comes to protecting your business, your home, and your computer network, but earning a degree like this is certainly going to give you the knowledge you need to put certain elements in place.
As an added benefit, a cyber security degree will also help you to find a great job if you are looking to change career or start one. With the growing number of computer networks around the world, there is more need now than there ever before to keep them safe and to protect the sensitive, personal information that is kept within so many of them.
Use a Firewall
A firewall is a great line of defense against cyber-attacks. It’s a piece of software that blocks any unauthorized access to your computer network from outside. It works using a set of ‘rules’ that you can control, making it easier or harder to enter your computer network. Having these rules in place via a firewall means you can control both incoming and outgoing network traffic. All the computers on the network will follow the same rules and the firewall should keep out anything or anyone that’s unwanted.
Because hackers are becoming more and more sophisticated, so too are firewalls, so if you have had one for a few years and never checked it, it might be time to upgrade to something more up to date which will help you a lot more than an older firewall will. They are easy to install and many computers come with a basic model already on the system, so it is worth checking this out if you’re not sure whether or not you have one.
Update Passwords Regularly
Passwords can be an excellent line of defense against cyber criminals, but only if they are used in the right way. Passwords need to be a complicated string of letters, numbers, and symbols if they are to be as strong as possible. Using phrases such as the word ‘password’ or a sequence of ascending or descending numbers, a date of birth, phone number, or pet’s name, for example, is just not strong enough, and a good hacker will easily be able to guess or hack the password and enter your systems.
As well as having a strong password that no one can guess, you need to change the password at least once every quarter. This may be an annoyance, especially when we all have so many passwords to enter on so many different sites and systems (and because no two passwords should be the same. If a hacker guesses one and every other password is the same, they have effectively been given access to everything you have ever done online. But if you want to keep everything as safe as possible, it is necessary to create strong and different passwords.
There are tech tools available that will change your password for you on a regular basis, and this can be useful when you have a lot and you want to ensure that every aspect of your computer system is going to be as safe as it possibly can be.
Keep Your Anti-Virus Software Up to Date
If you have anti-virus software installed that’s a great start, but you also need to maintain it, run regular checks, and keep it all up to date in order for it to be completely effective. Otherwise, any little breach will allow a cyber-criminal full access to your computer network. The older an anti-virus system is, the easier it is for a criminal to hack into it, so it can often be a good idea to completely renew your anti-virus software annually in order to have the most up to date safety available.
As well as this, you can manually be aware of what signs to look out for and to notice to know if your system has been hacked or not (and upgrade or update your anti-virus software accordingly). These signs include your computer running much more slowly than usual, being unable to update any software, and strange icons appearing on the screen. If any of these or any other unusual things happen, run your anti-virus software and do a scan on your computer.
Create a VPN
A VPN (virtual private network) is a much more secure remote connection between computers than a standard network would be, and therefore it is more difficult for cyber criminals to hack into your system. This is because the VPN, by virtue of being private, is actually only available to those who need access to your system and any equipment linked to it.
Whoever has control of the VPN can arrange for access to anyone who needs it, including outside contractors if necessary, meaning there is a control in place to ensure that only those who are meant to be using the system can do so. Of course, nothing is one hundred percent safe which is why additional checks still need to be in place, but it is a good additional level of security that many people are happy to set up and use since it reduces how likely it is that a hacker will breach the system.
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