Halloween may be a few weeks away, but it is never too early to be on the lookout for some potentially nasty tricks that could endanger your computer.
Be a Boy Scout. Like the Scouts' motto, be prepared. The best defense against computer threats continues to be up-to-date antivirus protection. "Oh, but I work in an office where someone else takes care of that," you may be thinking. If so, ask. The same is true if you think your spouse or child is remembering to take care of those details.
Back up. You can only do so much to protect yourself against some threats. In the end, a malicious virus, mechanical problem or lightening strike can ruin your hard drive. Backing up information regularly is the answer. Computer expert Kim Commando suggests Cobian Backup (educ.umu.se), a free service that copies files to other locations.
Facebook changes. Recently Facebook made changes to their design and services, including a timeline feature that shows your entire history. Time to check the security settings. CNET suggests how to protect that information at tinyurl.com/CNETFacebookchecks.
You can back up all those Facebook contacts, messages and photos, too. Go to Account (top right corner) > Account Settings > Download. You'll receive a zip file via email.
Supercookies. Sites put cookies on your computer. In some cases, they can help a site know your preferences; in other cases, they track other sites you visit. Aboutcookies.org, although designed for UK users, has ways to control and delete cookies. Supercookies can recreate your profile even after cookies are deleted.
Hidden within Adobe Flash and associated with vendors, including Hulu and Facebook, you can find tips to keep them at bay from Reuters at tinyurl.com/Reuters-supercookies.
Protect your zone. Wireless networks make it easy to use computers and printers throughout the home. Without protection, they also allow others nearby to utilize your signal. And malicious hackers in a wi-fi zone can take information from your computer fairly quickly.
Microsoft offers tips about encrypting files and using firewalls at tinyurl.com/microsoft-Wi-Fi-tips. MakeUseOf (makeuseof.com/tag/check-stealing-wifi) shows you how to prevent others from taking your signal.
Drive-by dangers. Even if you don't visit porn sites, you can come across legitimate sites with malvertising and drive-by downloads containing scripts. You may accidentally download malware or click on ads or email links that will transmit viruses.
Mobile devices such as tablets and phones can also be at risk.
The most obvious suggestion is to avoid clicking on a suspicious link or ad. Misspelled words and poor grammar can be clues that a link or ad is untrustworthy.
In addition, Lookout Mobile Security can protect Android phones (mylookout.com), and provides information on how to keep smartphones safe. Just like computers, downloading updates and utilizing passwords help.
SecurityNewsDaily (tinyurl.com/smartphone-security-tips) has other tips.
Here are some resources to utilize:
• Kim Commando's Security Center: (komando.com/securitycenter) has suggestions for antivirus, firewall protection and other security measures.
• Secunia Personal Software Inspector (secunia.com) is a free download offering protection by keeping programs up-to-date.
• PC World offers "6 Super Security Freebies" including USB protection and helps for keeping track of all of those passwords.
Ken Satterfield is advertising coordinator for Word&Way.