Skip to Content
© Sarayut Thaneerat |
Tech tips

5 ways to test your computer’s security

The moment you log onto the internet, your computer starts its game of Russian Roulette. I know that sounds bleak and frightening, but it’s true. Your personal data stored on the hard drive is a magnet for hackers and cybercriminals, and they will stop at nothing to break into your system.

These attacks are often overt and frightening. Virtual bandits have committed wave after wave of digital crimes. They have extorted untold Bitcoin dollars from regular users desperate to decrypt their files.

So how do you know if the security you set up on your computer really works?

Hackers use many different methods to invade your computer, so you’ll want to approach the problem from several angles. Think of it like a rancher leaning on the fence to make sure it’s still sturdy. Here are some ways to keep that fence from falling over.

1. Watch for vulnerabilities

The first tool in your arsenal is Rapid7’s Nexpose.

Vulnerabilities pop up every day. You need constant intelligence to discover them, locate them, prioritize them for your business, and confirm your exposure has been reduced.

Nexpose, Rapid7’s on-premise option for vulnerability management software, monitors exposures in real-time and adapts to new threats with fresh data, ensuring you can always act at the moment of impact. Click here for a free 30-day trial of Nexpose.

2. Keep things updated

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Keep your browser updated. Only the latest, safest version will help protect you from infections and attacks. Tap or click here to find out if you need to update your browser.

But an up-to-date browser is just the beginning. You need to make sure your operating system (OS) is updated as well.

How to update Windows

Most Windows machines are set to download and install updates automatically by default. If you haven’t changed your automatic update settings then you should be fine.

If you’ve turned automatic updates off, you can update Windows manually. Just open Settings > Update & Security > Check for updates. If there is an update available click Download & install.

How to update an Android phone

To see if any Android updates are available, Open the Settings app and select About Phone. Then, tap Check for Updates and install any that are available. This will keep you up to date with the latest security enhancements.

How to update your iOS gadget

To check for available  iOS updates, go into your “Settings” app and select “General.” From there, select “Software Update” and your device will begin to check for updates. Then select “Download and Install” to get the latest version (if available).

To get the update from iTunes, connect your device to a computer, open iTunes, and select your device from the menu in your iTunes Library. Select “Summary” and then click on “Check for Update.” Finally, select “Download and Update” and wait for the update to sync to your device.

How to update your Mac:

Here’s how to update the most recent version of macOS:

  • Open the App Store app
  • Click Updates in the toolbar
  • Tap the Update button next to the macOS update to download and install
  • Your gadget will restart when it is finished updating

Note: You can also open the App Store Update tab by clicking the “Software Update…” button on “About This Mac.”

3. Test your firewall

One of the most fundamental security setups is a firewall. Windows and Mac have decent firewalls built-in, and many third-party security programs include them.

A firewall keeps hackers from seeing your computer online when they’re searching for victims. Even if they know where your computer is, the firewall keeps them out.

Verify your firewall is running by visiting Windows Security options. A notification will be present if the firewall is off. Tap or click here to make sure your firewall is working.

4. Permanently delete files

When you delete a file on your PC, or on a Mac, by sending it to the “Trash,” it’s easy to assume that the file is gone forever. But really, it’s just been sent to another place.

Just like a physical trash can, the contents of your PC’s Recycle Bin or Mac’s Trash Can are only cleared out when you empty them. Using the same analogy, if it’s been a while since you’ve emptied them, there’s a treasure trove of documents and items for someone to snoop through.

And, if you haven’t properly shredded private documents, they can still be found later on down the road. All those deleted letters, financial documents and compromising photos are still lurking on the computer. All it takes is a little know-how to recover them.

That’s why you need to permanently delete sensitive files for optimal security. Tap or click here for ways to delete data safely and permanently.

5. Check your Facebook settings

Your computer isn’t the only place you store information. Facebook is packed with personal data that a scammer would love to mine.

That’s why they invented the “View As” tool. It shows you what your profile looks like to the public or specific people. If any of your information has the wrong settings, you’ll be able to spot it immediately.

Go to Facebook and open Settings > Timeline and Tagging. Next, go to “Who can see my things on my Timeline” and click “View As.”

Consider this the “au naturel” setting of Facebook. You’ll see exactly what your profile looks like to strangers. Click through your Timeline, About, Photos, Friends, and other sections, and see whether vulnerable tidbits have slipped through.

Remember, you can edit every single thing in your profile. To the right of each item, you’ll find an icon with an upside-down triangle. Click this to choose who can see the information. It’s a shortcut that will save you a lot of headaches down the line.

There are plenty of settings you can use to change your Facebook privacy. Tap or click here for Facebook settings to change right now.

Speaking of settings, you should also make sure that you’re happy with the settings for your most visited websites. One way to do this is through your browser. Tap or click here for Chrome settings. Tap or click here for Safari.

Tech smarts in 2 minutes a day

Get my Daily Tech Update and the Digital Life Hack. Just one minute each and arm you with the tech knowledge you need to impress your boss and friends with how smart you are.