With cyber-threats increasing by the second, it is important to keep your PC secure and safe from attacks. How exactly do you do it? Keeping your applications up to date - this is the key. Your antivirus, antispyware, operating system, etc. are nothing but pieces of code. You, the user, are responsible for maintaining it and ensuring that these utility and security programs are in good shape.
Here are the top 10 tips on how keep your PC secure:
- Install an antivirus program from a reputable company and make sure that it is updated every day. If you haven't updated your antivirus program in a while, you better get it updated now.
- Run the Windows Update/Microsoft Update manually, and make sure that all security patches and service packs are installed.
- Start up the "Action Center" in Windows 7, or "Windows Security Center" in Vista (use the search function from the Start menu, or go to the Control Panel). Check the security status of your Windows. If you see any warnings (ex.: the firewall is turned off), attend to it by following the instructions on the screen.
- Turn on automatic updates in Windows. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, this is done by starting up Windows Update and select "Change Settings" from the menu on the left side. Then select "Install Updates Automatically" and then set a time for when the updates should be installed.
- Turn on the firewall in your router. Although Windows has a built-in firewall, you should also turn on the firewall in the network router. You can do this by entering the IP address of the router in your browser or by logging on to the router, and check for firewall settings. If you do not know the IP address of the router, you can boot to a Windows command line. Click "Run" from the Start menu, type "cmd" and press enter. Key in the command "ipconfig" and press enter. The IP address of your router will be listed as "default gateway."
- Make sure that all of the software you use on your PC is updated to the latest version. This is especially important for software that is used to display content on Web pages, such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Windows Media Player, Quicktime, Java, etc. Be sure to update Microsoft Office through the Microsoft Update Web site. And of course, don't forget to update your preferred browser to the latest version.
- Secunia Personal Software Inspector is a very good tool to find out if you are running insecure software on your PC. The program scans your hard drive and checks what programs are on your PC. It will give you the link to the update if there are known security holes in the software.
- The most advanced security packages from the largest producers have become better at finding other threats other than computer viruses. However, occasionally you may want to make an extra check with another program. But be careful with what you install. There are security programs that tend to conflict with another antivirus and antispyware applications. This creates more problems than benefits.
That said, feel free to use programs such as Spybot Search & Destroy or Malware Bytes to search the disk for things the regular antivirus program may have missed. These can be run even if you have an antivirus program that is running in the background.
- Don't be fooled by websites and spam emails that try to get you to install unknown software to remove viruses or spyware. This is one of the oldest tricks in a scammer's bag, and you shouldn't fall for it.
- Last but not the least, use common sense!
Do not click on suspicious messages from banks and financial institutions. Go instead directly into your bank's website by typing the URL manually in your browser's address bar.
Keep in mind that the return address in your emails can be forged. If in doubt, send a message back to the sender and ask if it is really the people who sent the message. Oh! By the way, steer clear from other suspicious websites and pirated software as well. This is one of the most ways to get your PC infected with a virus.