The key to protecting your computers, mobile devices and data from hackers is using secure PC software. Hackers, also referred to as cybercriminals, break into your computer for many reasons. They can steal, alter, or delete information that you value. Hackers have malicious motives unlike other thieves who may steal items for legitimate reasons. They are more concerned with the unauthorized access to sensitive information. This could happen before you even realize there is something wrong.

Passwords and passwords, as well as a virus protection program and firewalls are the three primary steps to secure your computer software. If you adhere to these best practices, your computer will be much less vulnerable to being hacked by malware, hackers or ransomware (software that locks your data and requires payment to unlock it).

Change the name of the administrator account. Be sure to select a strong password that contains lower- and uppercase numbers, letters and computer symbols. Avoid using a password that is short like 1234, as hackers can employ automated tools to crack passwords that are easy to guess in a matter of minutes.

Update your operating system and other software. The majority of software updates include security fixes to protect against hackers. Install all patches and turn on automatic updates when available to limit the amount of time you’re vulnerable to intruders.

If you have a laptop or another portable device, ensure that the drive is encrypted when it’s not in use. This is especially crucial for UF students. Windows allows you to enable encryption by going to Settings > Update and Security > Device encryption. This will protect the entire internal drive as well as the majority of external drives like SD cards.

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