Baskin-Robbins is famous for their 31 flavors of ice cream. Ben and Jerry’s has 60 of their own flavors. You know what!? It’s still all ice cream.
The same is true when it comes to computer security. Each year there are new flavors of threats – new viruses, Trojan horses, phishing schemes, and so on. The number of threat “flavors” increases, but they’re all still threats. And the ways you deal with them are pretty much the same.
Today, I’d like to give you 13 simple tips to avoid the most common security threats likely to be leveled against your trading computer.
1. Create secure passwords.
- Longer passwords are harder they are to break. I recommend 12 to 24 characters.
- Use both upper- and lower- case letters. Add numbers and special characters help.
- Avoid single words (like “superman”). Instead, use a combination of words without spaces (like “lucyintheskywithdiamonds”). Even better, capitalize some of the letters then add numbers and special characters.
2. Don’t use your browser’s password manager.
The Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browsers seem helpful when they give you the option to store passwords. But browsers are just too easy to hack.
I clear my browser’s history (e.g., cookies and cache) weekly so there’s no data in my browser for hackers to mess with.
3. Use a Password Manager to generate and track passwords for each site.
I recommend a software called RoboForm to create and save secure passwords. My whole team uses it.
RoboForm forces you to set a “master” password so no one can access your stored data. And the bonus is, Roboform will save you time when logging in to your secure accounts.
4. Generate a different password for each website or account.
Protect your identity by having separate passwords for everything. Yes, it’s a pain to create and manage a different password for each website or account you use (but not so bad with RoboForm).
Otherwise, once a hacker figures out one password, they’ll be able to access any of your accounts.
5. Be careful when downloading software, especially free content.
This is a huge issue. Over 90% of the tickets we open in our Tech Support department are from traders who got a virus from a bad download.
Don’t download questionable free software to your trading computer. Restrict your web surfing to a separate computer or your iPad.
6. Make sure a URL is secure (HTTPS://) before entering personal data.
Before you enter your name, email, address, or credit card online, glance at your browser’s address bar first. Do you see “HTTPS” before the website address?
If yes, it’s safe to move forward. If no, think twice before proceeding because your data is now vulnerable to hacking.
7. Always have an antivirus software running.
There are so many good brands of anti-virus software available now. Even running Microsoft’s default antivirus software is better than nothing.
Always, always, always have anti-virus software running. Don’t turn it off. Don’t let your license lapse. Keep it updated.
8. Don’t trust ambiguous downloads in emails.
My friend sends me an email with a vague one-line message. Plus, he asks me to download an attachment I wasn’t expecting. RED FLAG. Delete.
If this happens to you, call your friend and tell them they’ve been hacked.
9. When in doubt, investigate.
If your computer is acting weird, or you receive “failed email” errors to your inbox for no reason, or you get odd requests via email, investigate right away. Don’t overlook it.
Hackers proliferate their evil through email. They use attachments filled with malicious code. They use fake, look-alike emails.
The United States IRS doesn’t send out emails with attachments. PayPal doesn’t ask for your personal info out of the blue. These are fake.
If you didn’t expect it, don’t open it. Report it as spam and delete it.
10. Always back up your data.
You’ve been warned! Just do it. The first symptom of lost data is… it’s lost! You have no excuse if you lose data.
There are dozens of services that will automatically back up your computer every day. There are hard drives that will handle backups for you. It’s a little work to set up, but most backup services are set-it-and-forget-it now.
11. Be cautious about letting other people use your trading computer.
The grandkids come to visit. You let them access a website with kids games. Little Johnny clicks on the wrong ad and winds up downloading Spyware. Be careful who accesses your computer and what they’re up to. Again, most viruses come from downloads, ads, and emails that seem innocent on the surface.
12. Keep your operating system and antivirus software up to date.
I can’t emphasize this enough. You may have noticed Windows 10 is very forceful about updating itself. This is good in many ways. Most periodic patches and updates address computer security issues.
13. Secure your computer with a password.
My trading computer cannot be accessed without entering a password. It’s just one more layer of security. It’s simple to do and may prevent problems in the future.
Manage by Prevention
Hundreds of calls come in each week from customers who are either worried about a computer security problem or have one already. Sad thing is, most issues are predictable and preventable. When you take precautions with your trading computer, you’ll sleep easier.
We hope today’s Quick Tip helped you. If you found this helpful, you’ll want to check out the other computer How-To’s I’ve created on this page. You can always call us if you have questions: 800-387-5250