Step 1:

Get a quality antivirus software

The most effective way to prevent a virus is to install antivirus software. If you don’t have one already, check out Microsoft Security Essentials or AVG. Both are free options that provide good protection. Don’t have time to keep it up-to-date? Consider paying for an annual subscription instead of paying for each year separately, or consider a cloud-based security suite like Norton 360 and McAfee LiveSafe.

Step 2:

Do background checks on employees with access to your systems

Before granting a potential employee access to your business’ computer systems, do background checks to ensure they are trustworthy. This will help minimize your risk of a security breach later on.

Step 3:

Update your software, operating system, and apps on a regular basis

This should be automatic and done on a schedule. For example, you might schedule your computer to update itself overnight while you’re sleeping. When an update is available, it will automatically install during a specified time period when you’re not using your computer.

Step 4:

Set up firewalls and password protection for every device that connects to the internet

The third step for protecting your online life is to set up password protection and firewalls for all devices that connect to your network. Every device connected to your network should have a firewall and every account should be protected by a strong password, Schulte says. If you don’t own it, it shouldn’t be able to access anything in any way. That goes double if they are not on your wifi router or have access through a wire from another source.

Step 5:

Encrypt data before sending it out over any network connection

This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s easier than you think. You can purchase SSL certificates fairly cheaply and have them installed in just minutes. Better yet, if you host your website with us or have it hosted elsewhere, we’ll do it for you at no charge.

Step 6:

Use anti-spam filters

If you’re not using an anti-spam filter, you need to start now. There are free options, like Gmail’s (which does a pretty good job) and paid options. Choosing one that suits your needs is probably more important than which one you choose, but Mailstrom is a popular option for gmail users if you decide to go that route.

Step 7:

Keep monitoring software active at all times.

You’re probably already familiar with antivirus software. You might also know about antispyware and host-based intrusion detection systems. These programs, when combined, can help you keep your information secure from a range of online threats. Don’t forget to update these programs every month to ensure they continue to provide maximum protection against new threats as they emerge.

Step 8:

Change passwords frequently.

Every few months, change your password and make sure it’s strong. What is a strong password? It’s at least twelve characters long, with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Oh, and don’t forget to turn on two-factor authentication! A lot can happen over time…In fact, I would suggest you have a unique password for every site or account that you register.

Step 9:

Don’t click on links or open attachments unless you know where they are from.

If a hacker sends you an email with a link or attachment, don’t click on it. Instead, call up your IT department and ask them if it’s safe to click on. The same goes for instant messages—if someone sends you a message that contains links or attachments, do not open them. It’s likely a hacker has just used social engineering techniques to convince you that an email is coming from your boss when really it isn’t.

Step 10:

Know if you have been hacked by checking your credit report.

Once a year, you can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Once you review your report for any fraudulent activity, consider placing a Fraud Alert on your file with all three credit bureaus to help prevent anyone from opening an account in your name.