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  • Writer's pictureSteven Burstyn

3 Mistakes Most Computer Users Make

No matter how experienced or computer savvy you are, there are times you are going to do something on the computer and immediately regret it. Staying safe and protecting your data requires constant vigilance.

Save Your Work

Recently a colleague of ours was working on a website form for a client. It was a fairly long form with conditional logic and several drop downs check boxes and radio buttons. After three hours of work, the application froze and the dreaded “not responding” box came up. After waiting 10 minutes to see if the application would recover, the app closed altogether.

In that 3-hour time frame, this person with many years of IT experience saved his work a grand total of zero times. When he brought the app back, he was partially relieved that the app auto-recovered about 2 hours of the work that had been done.

Saving your work is one of those lessons that people must learn time and again. Better yet, if your app has an autosave feature, as Office apps do, make sure they are on. Even if autosave is turned on, remember to hit that save button on a regular basis.

Watch out for Phishing Scams in your Email

How many times have you received an email saying that your bank account has been compromised, or your PayPal account has been suspended?

We get them very often. Here is the secret to these emails: Never trust your email.

We recently saw a string of emails to a person claiming their PayPal account was suspended. At a casual glance you would see that the email came from service(at)paypal . com. However, if you look closely, you see that the second “a” was actually an upside down “e” and the “l” was a capital “I.”

We have also seen emails that look rather convincing until you notice a typo or a grammatical error in the email and the reply-to address is to some random domain as opposed to your bank.

While scammers are getting more sophisticated, there are always things that give them away, but you don’t have to spend all of that time looking for those errors if you just assume that all emails you receive are bogus.

If you get an email from a bank, do not respond to it. Call them using a known number, such as the number on the back of your credit or debit card. If you are unsure, close your email and go directly to the institutions website and get a number from there. Do not use any links from your email. Go directly to the site yourself.

The same goes for phone call. No one is going to call you directly about a problem with your bank account and ask you to verify your account information. If you receive a phone call, hang up immediately and call the bank back on a known number as you would if you received an email.

An no, your social security number has not been compromised, the IRS is not going to arrest you, and this is way more than the second notice that your vehicle’s warranty has expired.

Protect your Hardware from Power Surges

One of the most used expressions related to not doing something to protect yourself is, “well, it’s never been an issue before.” You might have never been hit by a car, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to run across Sunrise Highway against the light during rush hour. Electrical surges are not something that happens often, but it happens often enough for the concern to be real, and as getting hit by a car, it only takes once for you to learn your lesson.

Surge protectors protect anything plugged into it from voltage spikes. For a increase of voltage to be considered a surge, the increase has to be present on the line for 3 nanoseconds. Nanoseconds. Three. There are 1,000,000,000 nanoseconds in 1 second, and for an electrical spike to be considered a surge worth protecting against, the spike has to last 3 nanoseconds.

Considering the cost of computer hardware and your dependence on your computer for work, there is no reason not to put a very basic level of protection between you and the electrical outlet.

These three bits of insight are designed to save you time, protect your identity, and save you money, and you can implement two of these things right now without spending a dime. A surge protector will cost you a few dollars, but the value of the hardware and data it will protect is worth so much more.

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