Welcome to the Oregon FBI's Tech Tuesday segment. This week, building a digital defense with your New Year's resolutions.
Beginning-of-the-year resolutions are hard to make and even harder to keep. So, this week, we want to talk about a few easy-to-do things that you can accomplish -- taking on just a bit at a time. If you are like me, it is easy to forget -- so pull out your calendar and make a note to do one thing a week for the next month.
First, start with your firewall. That is a piece of hardware or software that keeps hackers or other unwelcome guests out. Often in a single computer set-up, that firewall is built into your operating system.
For networked computers -- the router that connects them all together can serve as the firewall. Your job this week is to do some research on what you already have and whether you need to add any further protection. Either way, make sure that the firewall you have or get is actually turned on. In many cases, it is possible to disable the firewall -- and doing so could leave you at risk.
In week 2 -- take some time to check your antivirus software. This software keeps malicious code -- viruses and worms and the like -- from taking hold of your computer. Again -- do some research to figure out what you have and whether there are any better options available. Make sure your existing software is updated and consider turning on automatic updates so you can check this one off the list for a while.
In week 3 -- take a look at your anti-spyware applications. Once a bad guy downloads spyware onto your device, he can track where you go and what you do online. His collection of your personal information can lead to everything from targeted and unwanted pop-up ads to unauthorized access of your bank account using the login and passwords you thought you were privately typing. Some operating systems offer free spyware protection, and inexpensive software is readily available for download on the Internet or at your local computer store. Remember, though -- don't click on unsolicited offers for anti-spyware protection because they themselves may be filled with malware. Only shop at trustworthy stores.
Finally -- an easy one to close out this month of techy resolutions: check the operating system that is running your computer. Whether it is Windows or Mac OS or something else -- make sure you have the most current operating system available for your device. Computer manufacturers regularly issue updates to keep up with the available technology and to fix security holes. You can often set this to update automatically as well.
If you need more detail on any of these items, go to FBI.gov and type in the keywords "On the Internet" (https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/on-the-internet.)
If you have been victimized by an online scam, be sure to report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.