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Friday, March 24, 2023

Computer Health Checkups and Security: An Expert Shares Tips About What You Should Know

The importance of monitoring the health of your computer, and better safeguarding private information may slip your mind, but making time to tend to these matters can pay off exponentially. Vernon Eric Smith, owner of Elaycire Technology Consulting, has been running his small business for 30 years. The Anne Arundel County Maryland resident also works as an information technology specialist, utilizing his skills as a technology and cybersecurity advisor and also providing hardware/software recommendations.

Smith began the computer health and security discussion by mentioning that the most pervasive computer threat is “users not protecting their data.” Consumers should question why sharing personal information is needed, such as requests to provide a social security number. When it comes to changing email and login passwords, Smith mentioned that having a unique password for all user accounts and changing them daily is not practical. He recommended using multi-factor authentication (MFA) instead. Users are required to use more than a single authentication factor to gain access to online accounts. Smith shared additional information.

Vernon Eric Smith works on a
microcontroller for a coding class.

Q: What is the difference between malware and a computer virus?

A: Malware is malicious software. It’s installed on your device to do something that you didn’t intend for it to do. A virus is a type of malware. It’s designed to infect as many computers as possible.

Q: How do malware and  viruses affect computers?

A: This list could be endless, but I’d say the most serious malware/viruses will delete all your data, or encrypt your data (ransomware) so you cannot access it unless you pay to decrypt it.

Q: What are a few mistakes that people make that leave their computer susceptible for virus and malware attacks?

A: Using social media (TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) It’s no longer just your personal computer that needs to be secured. It’s your actual data. All of this information is willingly shared on social media platforms. With the pervasiveness of all the social media applications many people use, they may forget to be mindful of the links they are clicking on within the pages. All it takes is one click on the wrong ad or the wrong video and boom!   

Q: How do some hackers gain access to computers from other locations?

A: They gain access through embedded malicious links in emails, and social media sites and by calling you on the phone and asking for your passwords.

Q: Do you have any helpful tips for selecting virus protection software?

A: If a user is running Windows 10/11, he or she already has free antivirus, anti-malware, and anti-ransomware applications built into the Windows Defender operating system.

Q: Is it harmful to the life of the computer to leave it running all the time?

A:  No. Computers can be left running 24/7. As a matter of fact, the default setting for Microsoft Windows 10/11 to update is 3:00 a.m. If the computer is turned off overnight, it will update once it is powered on. You may be annoyed by the update messages.  

Q: What is the most efficient way to back up data?

A: Use a USB device to back up your important data or use the backup feature built into Windows 10/11.

Q: Does using public Wi-Fi increase the risk of a computer getting hacked?

A: Yes, it does increase the risk of being exposed to hackers. One of the nice features built into every website is the use of SSL (the padlock icon) users see while browsing the internet. This means that all the data being transmitted from your computer browser to the website server is encrypted. This will prevent casual hackers from intercepting and viewing your data, but it will not stop the determined hacker.  

Q: What can happen when hackers access your computer?

A: Hackers can read your data, possibly redirect you to a malicious website, or install a virus.

Q: Who is likely to send email spam and what impact can it have?

A: Hackers and marketers cast their net as wide as possible. Some of the creators of the spam may insert malicious links within the body of the email.

Q: How can you keep your computer running in tip top shape?

A: Keep the operating system updated. Keep the anti-virus and anti-malware software updated. Enable spam and junk mail filters within the email application. Add known users to your contact list. All other mail will be filtered. Only click on links in emails from senders that you know. If an email doesn’t seem legitimate, don’t open it. Call the sender and confirm they sent it.

Visit www.elaycire.com to learn more about Smith’s business.

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