The importance and benefits of good hygiene in one’s day-to-day life have been emphasised and proven to death. From the human body to the environment one lives in, the lack of adequate prophylaxis (or preventive measures) only brings bad news. Now, with people shifting major chunks of their work and social lives into the digital space, it is becoming increasingly important to implement digital hygiene and safety practices, which start with basic computer usage and extend all the way to the internet. Additionally, mobile phones, given their amazing power to provide computing on-the-go, should not be exempted from the same.
The following checklist has been prepared to provide awareness about some basic preventive measures that ensure safe and healthy computing practices.
- There is no single response to the question: Which antivirus software is the best? Effective antivirus software doesn’t always have to be expensive. Free antivirus software, like avast!, provides basic yet significant security from malicious software. It is also advisable to carry a portable antivirus like ClamWin in your portable hard disk or flash drive for a quick computer scan. Never run two antivirus software at the same time; they may conflict with each other and cause system instability.
In addition to the aforementioned measures, a firewall always helps in improving the security of a computer system by monitoring incoming data from the internet, much like a security guard. While Windows has a built-in firewall system, it is limited in some ways. Comodo Firewall is a freeware program that helps in providing essential security against potentially harmful incoming data.
Is your password “password”? Bad idea! You can do better than that. The world has moved on and it is no longer considered creative to keep giveaway passwords -especially in the era of passphrases.
Devise a password system so that it is easy for you to remember your passwords, and impossible for others to guess them. For instance, think of a sentence that you can remember, for instance “This password is hard to remember”. Extract the first letter of each word: Tpihtr. Mix in some account/website specific letters; ‘fA’ for Facebook, ‘tW for Twitter, and so on, to make something like “Tpihtr.fA”. Throw in some numbers and special characters to make it unique; for instance “[email protected]” – voila! For starters, you have probably made your password much tougher than it was earlier. Innovate and keep improving.
- Ideally, a password should be longer than 10 alphanumeric characters.
- Never write down your password for reference or share it with anyone.
- When using a public computer, it is always recommended that you use the virtual keyboard option on your Windows system to punch in your password in case the computer has a keylogging software to record each key press. A virtual keyboard can be accessed through Start>Programs>Accessories>Ease of Access/Accessibility>On-Screen Keyboard.
Did you know that whatever information is exchanged between you and your destination online can be read, stored or misused by a third party? This information could be your personal information; passwords, e-mail and so on. To counter this, several tools and techniques have been developed. One such security measure adopted by many websites is upgrading their Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) URL to a Hypertext
Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) URL. This ensures that all data exchanged between the user and the website in one session remains accessible only to these two parties.
- Firefox browser supports a wonderful extension called HTTPS Everywhere, which can be downloaded from the Firefox extensions page. HTTPS Everywhere automatically converts every URL that you access to HTTPS (from HTTP), provided that the website is covered by HTTPS Everywhere. To update the add-on, you can write your own ruleset and add it to the simple XML .config file.
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