Keep your Windows operating system up to date
Probably the most important step to do is checking for the latest security updates and patches available for your Windows operating system.
To get the security updates automatically, go to “Control Panel” and check if your automatic updating system is enabled or follow these steps:
- Access the search box in your Windows operating system, type Windows Update.
- Select advanced options.
- Click on Automatically download updates in case it is not already selected/turned on.
After checking for available updates for your Windows operating system, keep the automatic update turned on in order to download and install the important updates that can help protect your PC against new viruses or next-generation malware.
Always remember to keep your OS up to date with the latest security available. Software patching remains an essential key to improve online safety and security experts make a good case of emphasizing its importance. Cybercriminals still try to benefit from security holes found in users’ systems and PCs. That’s one of the reasons why cyber attacks still work and they make a lot of money of it.
Update your software
You don’t have to update only the Windows operating system, but your software as well. Therefore, make sure all the latest updates and security patches for your main programs and apps are installed.
Needless to say that most popular pieces of software (such as Java, Adobe Flash, Adobe Shockwave, Adobe Acrobat Reader), especially the outdated ones, are always under threat from malicious actors who exploit them to get easier access to your sensitive data.
When you use one of these applications if it not current it should tell to download and install the latest one
Create a restore point
If you already installed the security updates for Windows OS, the next step recommended is to create a restore point in Windows.
What is a restore point – it is a point in time when you backup your system as it is at that time. This way if you need to do a restore you will have one and hopefully one that is not old. To do this:
You can do this by typing in the white box control panel or telling cortana to open the control panel which is below. From the control panel you can do quite a bit to make your computer easier to use.
Click on System and Security (which is below)
This will open the system property where you can do a create a restore point and this is also where you would go if you needed to do a system restore.
- Install a traditional antivirus product
When you consider installing an antivirus program on your PC, make sure you use one from a legitimate company, because there can be fake software programs out there. It is important to have a reliable security solution on your system, which should include real-time scanning, automatic update, and a firewall.
To find the best antivirus that suits your needs, read this ultimate guide (a good article) (that will teach you more about antiviruses, its main features and what should you look for.
If you choose to install a security product that doesn’t have a firewall, make sure you have turned on the Windows firewall.
To turn it on, go to Control Panel, select System and Security, then Windows Defender Firewall and turn it on or off.
I personally use Kaspersky which the government use not use as it was designed by a Russian company. I personally like it and the cost is not that much. Others are windows defender, Norton, McAfee and there are lots of others free and not free.
- Back up your system
You have a good operating system and system applications, you have installed additional security products for your system safe and even created a Clean installation restore point for your Windows.
The steps above are meant to keep you safe from malicious software and online threats, but you may still encounter hardware issues that could endanger your private information.
To make sure your data stays safe, you should be using a twofold strategy, which should include combining an external hard drive usage with an online backup service.
We need to emphasize the importance of having a backup solution which provides stability (look for a big company name), it’s easy to use (so you won’t have a headache backing up from files), allows you to synchronize your files with the online backup servers and provides some sort of security, such as encryption capabilities.
Our guide on how to do a data backup includes more information on most popular backup solutions available and what the best ways to keep your data safe are.
At the same time, you could simply use your Windows Backup system. To set it up, access your Windows Control Panel and then click Backup and Restore to access the location. From this place, you can set an automatic backup, create a schedule and even choose a network location for your backup files.
- Use a standard user account
Windows provides a certain level of rights and privileges depending on what kind of user account you have. You may use a standard user account or an administrator user account.
To secure your PC, it is recommended to have a standard account to prevent users from making changes that affect everyone who uses the computer, such as deleting important Windows files necessary for the system.
With a Standard user account, you have limited rights and cannot do things like changing system settings, or installing new software apps, hardware or changing the username and passwords. Here’s why you should use an account like this one and how to create it.
If you want to install an application or make security changes, remember that you will need an administrator account.
We also recommend that you set a strong password for your Windows user account.
Use this security guide that will help you set unique and strong passwords and manage them like an expert.
Top Security Tip:
Using a standard account ensures that a piece of malware which infects a limited-user account won’t do much damage as one infecting an administrator account.
- Keep your User Account Control enabled
User Account Control (UAC) is an essential security feature of Windows that prevents unauthorized changes to the operating system. Many users have the tendency to disable it after installing/reinstalling the Windows operating system.
We don’t recommend to turn it off. Instead of disabling the UAC, you can decrease the intensity level using a slider in the Control Panel.
UAC monitors what changes are going to be made to your computer. When important changes appear, such as installing a program or removing an application, the UAC pops up asking for an administrator-level permission.
In case your user account is infected with malware, UAC helps you by keeping suspicious programs and activities from making changes to the system.
- Secure your web browser before going online
Here’s another thing to do after installing Windows: pay attention to browser security. Since our web browser is the main tool used to access the Internet, it is important to keep it safe before going online.
The vulnerabilities in your web browser are like open door invitations to cybercriminals who find creative ways to harvest your most important data. For example, if you are using Adobe Flash, be aware of its security flaws and how it can expose you to attacks.
To stay safe while accessing various web pages, follow these steps:
- Choose the latest version for your browser.
- Keep it updated.
- Choose a private browsing session when you access a website you are not sure about. Choosing this mode will prevent authentication credentials (or cookies) from being stored and steal by attackers.
- Since data-stealing malware spreads through malicious code embedded in pop-up windows even in legitimate websites, make sure your web browser can block pop-ups:
And there’s, even more, you can do. Read my browser class and you will learn how different browsers work to your benefit.
- Use an encryption software tool for your hard drive
Even if you set a password to your Windows account, malicious actors can still get unauthorized access to your private files and documents. They can do this by simply booting into their own operating system – Linux, for example – from a special disc or USB flash drive.
A solution for this case is to encrypt your hard drive and protect all your sensitive files. It is recommended to use this level of security if you have a laptop, which can be very easily stolen. The same thing applies to a computer.
A free encryption tool you can use is BitLocker, This is a link to set it up https://www.windowscentral.com/how-use-bitlocker-encryption-windows-10 which is available on the latest Windows operating systems and you can enable it at any moment. Even after you have enabled the BitLocker protection, you won’t notice any difference because you don’t have to insert anything else but your normal Windows user account password. The benefits of using this encryption tool:
- It encrypts your entire drive, which makes it impossible for malicious actors stealing your laptop to remove the hard drive and read your files.
- It’s also a great encryption software if it happens to lose your PC/laptop or get it stolen.
- Easy to use and already integrated into your Windows OS, so there’s no need to add another encryption software.
- Be careful online and don’t click on suspicious links
To make sure you won’t be infected by clicking on dangerous links, hover the mouse over the link to see if you are directed to a legitimate location. If you were supposed to reach your favorite news website, such as “http://www.cnn.com”, but the link indicates “hfieo88.net“, then you probably shouldn’t access it. Chances are you’ll be infected with malware and cybercriminals steal your sensitive data.
It’s not just about staying safe.
This guide above is meant to keep you safe online. But, at the same time, following these security measures mean that you also set up your system to work smoothly for online browsing and financial operations, activities you do every day.