Our Chart of Top Dumb Ways to Mess Up Your PC
Computer users need to be a lot more savvy these days than they used to be due to an increasing number of cyberslime all over the Internet. I am surprised security researchers aren't all treated for paranoia because when you start digging for potential and very plausible threats you encounter on a daily basis, it becomes pretty clear you'd rather not use Internet at all. Alas, that's not an option, and our lives and jobs are entangled in the tight web of the Internet of Things.
That said, nobody is responsible for your online safety and the functionality of your computer but you. Not the government, NSA, cyberpunks, or Ed Snowden, but you, so you only have yourself to blame if something undesirable happens to your machine. Without further ado, here are the dumbest things you can do to render things pretty nasty on your PC.
- Not having an anti-virus, anti-malware and firewall. Surprisingly, there are still users who ignore those programs, but it won’t be long till they find some of their software hacked. An anti-virus alone is insufficient, and Symantec went as far as saying the antivirus is dead, but when you pair it with a decent anti-malware and anti-spyware products, that don't need to be expensive or paid, you improve your defenses significantly. Also, leaving your defenses on their own, unmonitored, is a recklessness you'd rather avoid. Try to know which defense app does what and how you can moderate its activity. Download3k recommends: Spybot Search and Destroy, Spyware Blaster, and an antivirus solution of your choice - Bitdefender, Comodo, AVG, Malwarebytes.
- Not updating. Updates come for a reason - developers release patches to security holes and performance bugs, so set your Windows Updater, or Mac, or Ubuntu updater to automatic by default. Also, do the same for the software you use, from media players to file managers, and especially browsers.
- Too much love will kill you, or trying out two anti-virus products on one machine simultaneously. Maybe this point does not require clarification for the knowledgeable, but some may simply not know this or mistaken an antivirus product for system maintenance product, like some of the IOBit programs, for example. Remember, two antivirus programs on one PC can break things beyond repair.
- Ignoring maintenance. Today, machines come with significant storage and memory, but even that gets easily cluttered, so removing cache, history, thumbnails, etc. can improve its performance. Whereas ignoring this issue when you notice performance lags can one day make life harder than it is. Download3k suggestions: RegInOut.
- Deleting files haphazardly. Once in a while, you may see a file, or a process in your Task Manager that sounds suspicious to you, or you may find a start up process of its purpose you have no idea, so you might think deleting it will make your machine run faster. Wrong. Do some researching before you delete anything.
- Unsecured downloads. It is tempting to download hacked premium software, but mind the consequences because with the free goodness may come a virus you don't want to think of. Also, filter out those software download sites that have strict security and adware practices. Unfortunately, some reputable websites bundle unwanted software with their every download, and it's not only irritating, but a direct intrusion, which can potentially compromise your machine. Use download3k.com for your regular software searches!
- Clicking on ads. Forget about it altogether, no matter what they promise - a bigger reproductive organ, or a free vacation on the Caribbean. In most cases, you will have to go through a maze of fill-in forms, or subscribe to a paid service you don't need, and you will never get the promised offer anyway. However, in many cases pop-ups and ads are where the malware hides, giggling and waiting till you click and let it scatter its poop all over your system.
- Not double-checking suspicious emails, phishing. You should know this by now, but I will tell you anyway - banks, PayPal, eBay, or Amazon, or whatever online service you are using that has to do with your money does not send out e-mails requesting you follow a link in the email and enter your password. If you should receive something like that, call your bank, or PayPal support and inquire into the authenticity of the e-mail. If you simply must, log in to your account, but don't use the link from the suspicious e-mail. Instead, type the website's address manually, or use the one you have in the Bookmarks.
- Ignoring sandboxing for Internet surfing. Sandboxed browsing is a very neat idea; it helps you protect your system from online intruders even better. A browser is the main entrance to any malware, so placing it in the sandbox, an isolated environment on your machine is a must if you must visit potentially harmful websites for work, or fun. Download3k suggestions: Sandboxie, Comodo AV with Virtual Kiosk feature.
- Not using anti-keyloggers for online banking. If you want to do online banking the right way, use a secure browser, like Aviator, or a sanboxed version of your favorite browser, and download a simple, yet functional Oxynger KeyShield, which lets you enter passwords in a way that renders keyloggers dysfunctional.
- Messing with Registry - a single misspelled command can cause you to black out until a lot of dollars later.
- Ignoring it when your browser behaves in a weird way, when your home page is different, or your browser takes you to the pages other than you click. These, and some others, may be a sign that your browser might have been hijacked. Check out this guide on how to handle a hijacked browser.
- Ignoring back-ups. Not everybody needs a full backup of what they have in their systems, but at least have a place in the cloud where you regularly upload critical files.
- Not setting your Wi-Fi password, or leaving it as it was by default. Even if you don’t mind your neighbors tapping into your bandwidth, you might mind being hacked through an unencrypted connection.
- Not creating a System Restore Point regularly, especially when you think everything runs fine on your machine. A system restore point can be a life saver in many situations, and in some cases it can be the only thing in between you handling the issue on your own, or paying a tech guy.
- Do I need to tell you to stop eating and drinking in front of your machine?
- Playing flash games and visiting adult websites that funnel malware to your computer as fast as your Internet connection allows them to.
- Agreeing to download free apps with bundled toolbars - bad choice. Overall, failure to read the details of any installation process, or better yet Terms and Conditions, equals to digital suicide. Toolbars, in most cases, monitor everything you are doing and occasionally redirect you to websites of their choice, malicious ones.
- Thinking that just because you have an antivirus you can't get a virus. Even if you have an expensive AV suite, there are viruses that didn’t exist at the time you started reading this article - zero day viruses. They are still not in your antivirus database, so sticking to safe browsing practices helps a lot.
Remember, you and only you are responsible for everything that happens to your computer - not government, or hackers, and if you indulge yourself in adult websites, flash games, screensaver websites, hacked software, pirated music and movies, ignoring the basics of online security, the guy who repairs your computer will most likely hate you.