5 ways to test your computer’s security

Devina Corel
June 5, 2017
290 Views

MBSA will also check many of your account settings. Is your computer set up to get automatic updates? Do you have more than one administrator account on the computer? This software will check all of that information for you.

MBSA also has guides to what settings are preferred and why. Just click the “What was scanned” or “Result details” links to read them.

Also, pay attention to your shared folders. MBSA will show you folders set up for sharing. You may have opened up some private folders in the past, so anyone on your network can access files in these folders. Make sure you’re only sharing what you meant to share, and with whom. Learn more about MBSA and download this free tool.

2. Update your browser plugins

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.

But an up-to-date browser is just the beginning. You need to make sure your browser plug-ins are up to date, as well. Just like an old browser, an outdated plug-in leaves your browser and your computer vulnerable.

Open up the browsers on your computer, even the ones that you don’t use, and go to Mozilla’s Plugin checker. It will show you every plug-in installed on the browser and whether it’s up to date. Even though it’s the same company that makes Firefox, the Plugin checker works for Internet Explorer, Chrome, and other browsers.

If you want to remove any plug-ins or toolbars you find, follow the instructions I provide here.

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.

But they’re not perfect. A wrong port setting can send up a flare, revealing your computer or giving hackers an opportunity to slip past. If you have a virus, it might have changed your settings without you even knowing.

A port test service like PortTest scans your firewall to make sure your computer is invisible. If it can see you, so can the hackers. Click here to test your computer’s firewall.

4. Permanently delete files

Newsflash: Deleting your files doesn’t actually remove them. They can still hang around your hard drive for days or weeks. Anyone who knows what they’re doing can recover them.

That’s why it’s a good idea to permanently delete any sensitive files that you no longer need. Here are step-by-step instructions.

But even then, you don’t want to just dust your hands and assume the files are gone. To confirm they’ve been deleted, fire up a file-recovery program like Recuva and see what it can even find on your system.

If it doesn’t find the files you permanently deleted, you’re in good shape.

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 more settings you can use to change your Facebook privacy. Click here for a full walk-through of Facebook’s privacy settings and how they work.

How else can you keep your computer secure from trespassers? Be sure to listen or download my podcasts, or click here to find it on your local radio station.

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