Protect your personal devices against cyber attacks

Cyber security experts offer ways to protect your devices against cyber attacks and hackers. (KOMO photo)

The global cyber attack against big organizations has many of you concerned about the safety of your personal computers. Cyber security experts say, you should be.

Here are some of the things they say we should all be doing on a regular basis to reduce our risks- on desk tops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones.

For starters, the National Cyber Security Alliance says always update your critical software. This is especially critical for people who have lots of apps on their smartphones. Ignoring software update alerts is like leaving your doors windows open. You're taking a chance.

"On your phone somewhere, there should be a place that indicates what apps you have that need to be updated," Explained NCSA's Executive Director Michael Kaiser. "So you should be looking at the apps that you have and and making sure that you have the most recent version of that app running."

Kaiser says if you have apps you haven't up dated because you don't use them get rid of them.

"Those apps operate, sometimes, in the background," said Kaiser. "Sometimes they have security vulnerabilities that are discovered later and that's what the patches do. They solve those for you. So, you know. Get rid of them."

You should also be backing up what's on all your devices.

"If you got ransomware on your computer and you had a recent backup of all your files, you could restore your system, basically wipe it out, and put all your files back on and go about your merry way," Kaiser stressed. Experts say as soon as your system is restored it's imperative to change every password and user name.

And when it comes to passwords - beef them up, and use multi-factor authentication on all sensitive accounts.

"In addition to your password and your log on, you may get, for example a text message to your phone, with a 1 time use string of numbers that then you input, and then access to your account. That makes it much harder to have your account compromised," said Kaiser.

Experts say many of us have very weak passwords, especially for email accounts- which can often allow access to all the rest of our accounts. They also say make sure you subscribe to a top-rated anti-virus program.

There are also things you should not be doing. Never click on links or pop-up ads that claim your device has been compromised. Never respond to unsolicited emails that urge you to use that email to update your account immediately. Never talk to callers who claim they're with tech support and have detected a problem with your computer- just hang up immediately.

Finally, if you're running a very old version of an operating system or have a very old computer- it's probably time for an upgrade- since many old systems are not able to make security updates and patches.

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