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As the holidays approach, you might be thinking about buying a new laptop for a loved one. Or maybe they’re going to buy one for you! After all, computers make great presents, since most of us rely on them in our personal and professional lives.
But laptops aren’t cheap. According to Consumer Reports, most of them cost around $500 and are meant to last around five years, which is why keeping them safe immediately upon purchase is so important.
When you receive a new laptop as a gift or buy one from the store, take the necessary steps to ensure it’s protected from cybersecurity threats. By taking the following precautions, you’ll avoid cybercriminals and get more time and value out of your laptop:
As soon as you get a new laptop, set up a unique password to keep everyone except you out.
Purchase an antivirus solution
In addition to hacking into the websites of large corporations, cybercriminals also go after individuals. Once they have access to the data on your laptop, they can use it to spy on you and steal your money as well as your identity.
Cybercriminals can go about this in many different ways. They’ll use internet scams to trick you into sending them money, or they’ll plant malware into the code of a website that you frequently visit, allowing them to capture any private information you enter on the site.
Anti-virus solutions are the best way to avoid these threats. You can download products for PC or Mac that are designed to detect viruses before they infect your laptop, without affecting functionality or internet speed.
Keep your software up to date
When you start using your new laptop, the most recent versions of basic programs and applications will already be installed, such as browsers like Google Chrome. Other programs will have to be downloaded and installed manually. Typically, you’ll receive alerts when updates are available, and you can install them by simply restarting your laptop.
According to Elie Bursztein, who leads Google’s anti-abuse research team, older softwares are easier to invade, so it’s important to make sure you’re keeping up with recent updates for each program. Don’t let a whole year go by without updating your software for Google Chrome, as there will be improved security patches with each new version, which reduces the likelihood of your browser becoming a target for cybercriminals.
Use a trusted virtual private network (VPN)
When you log on to the internet for the first time, pay attention to the network you’re connecting to. Is it your own VPN that you set up at home? Or is it the public Wi-Fi server at a local coffee shop? There’s a big difference between the two in terms of security.
Public networks are much easier for cybercriminals to monitor since they require no authentication for access. Hackers can use these networks to distribute malware to other laptops and to intercept data.
So if you absolutely have to use public Wi-Fi, be conservative with the information you provide on web pages or in email threads. Any online activities involving sensitive data, such as online banking or communication between you and your healthcare provider, should be reserved for private networks only.
Make sure your laptop is password-protected
This is a more obvious one, but its importance cannot be overstated. Let’s say you leave your laptop unattended in an airport and it gets stolen. Without password protection, the thief will have access to all of the files you keep on there, including saved passwords and credit card information. This could result in a financial burden much greater than simply buying a new laptop. As soon as you get a new laptop, set up a unique password to keep everyone except you out.
To learn more about protecting your new laptop, visit us at Total Defense today!