California, (January, 2012) – As the holiday season draws to a close, many of us resolve to try to improve ourselves or our habits in the New Year. As we venture forth into 2012, let’s take this opportunity to resolve to change some of the less savory habits we have probably all fallen into with our computers and gadgets. This year, let your computer have some New Year’s resolutions of its own.
Resolve to Stay Virus and Spyware-free: Every day NERDS get calls from frustrated computer users with slow systems that are bogged down with pop-up ads, re-directing them on the internet, generating error messages, or not booting up. The most common culprits are viruses and spyware or malware. So make sure to install a free anti-virus and anti-spyware program like Microsoft Security Essentials and set it to automatically download and install updates. While you’re at it, resolve that 2011 was the last year you’ll open email attachments from unknown senders (even if it most recently came from your sister, if she didn’t create it don’t trust it), click on pop-up ads (especially those professing that your computer is infected), or download programs or files from questionable sources. Trust us: the torrent site that you’re considering downloading from hasn’t vetted the content to confirm that you’ll really get the video or music file you want, free of viruses or spyware. Is that new Justin Bieber song really worth the risk?
Resolve to Password Protect: One of the easiest lines of defense in today’s online world is to beef up your passwords. Instead of using a word found in the dictionary, consider using a phrase where you replace some letters with numbers or symbols. For example, “N3rds Rule” is going to be far safer than your child’s name or birthday. Try to steer clear of using any information easily found on your Facebook profile in either your password or in your security questions. Instead of constantly changing passwords, you’re better off having different passwords at different sites. One easy option is to make all your online retailer login and passwords different from your financial logins and those different from your email password. Remembering three passwords based on category is still easier than remembering a constantly changing single password.
Resolve to Protect Your Personal Data: When it comes to identity theft and credit card fraud, thieves are looking for the easiest targets. Even though there’s no way to guarantee that you won’t be a victim, the good news is that you only have to make yourself more of a challenge than the majority of people making risky mistakes. Resist the impulse to respond to unsolicited emails or phone calls professing to be from your bank or credit card company asking you to confirm your personal information or credit card number. When in doubt, call the number on the back of your card to confirm the request is legitimate. Create some “cyber distance” between your banking and online shopping, social media, or news subscriptions by setting up a separate secure email for your bank logins. When creating an account at an online retailer, make sure to un-check any boxes offering to save your data. If that website’s server is compromised, you want to limit the personal information that a hacker is able to get about you, and potentially link back to your other accounts.
Make 2012 the year you resolve to ditch bad computing habits for good.
About The Author: Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.
About Nerds On Call: Established in a spare room in Redding, Calif., in March 2004, Nerds On Call offers on-site computer and laptop repair services to consumers and businesses. Nerds On Call provides trouble-shooting for PCs and Macs, home and office networks, printers, iPods® and MP3 players, handheld devices and cell phones, home theaters and game systems, and virtually every other form of digital entertainment. In 2009, 2010, & 2011 the company was named to Inc. magazine’s list of 5000 fastest growing private companies. With 7 locations across California and Oregon, Nerds On Call serves more than 40,000 satisfied customers per year. For more information, visit callnerds.com or call 1-800-919-NERD.