Basic steps for protecting your Windows PC against common threats
Leveling up your Windows PC security has never hurt anybody. Specific preventative measures are crucial, and their applications do not take too long. Thus, choosing to disregard the increasing demand for robust defense strategy is not practical in the long run.
Now, while the best-of-the-best tools and tech for improving cybersecurity can come with quite a hefty price tag, you don’t need to break the bank to protect your PC. You don’t even have to be a highly tech-savvy person. Just changing a few habits and adopting a few security practices is more than enough to keep you safe.
Don’t do anything without a firewall
All internet users know that anti-virus applications are necessary companions. However, firewalls tend to be left behind, with many users struggling to understand their necessity.
An anti-virus program only deals with malware and computer infections, helping to keep your PC protected against malicious programs. A firewall, on the other hand, prevents unwanted network communication. In other words, it blocks intruders from accessing the information on your PC.
Most Windows PCs come with a pre-installed Windows Firewall, which could be enough protection for an average user. However, if you have sensitive information on your PC, you might want to get an upgrade from a third party.
Level up your security with a VPN
Sometimes, it’s nice to take your laptop to a cozy coffee shop, connect to its public Wi-Fi, and work while sipping your favorite beverage. It’s also nice to take your computer to a hotel while you’re on vacation and watch a TV show on Netflix while connected to your room’s network. If you’re guilty of these or similar behaviors, you should level up your security with a Virtual Private Network, aka VPN.
Connecting to unsecured public networks makes you vulnerable to all types of cyberattacks – DDoS, Man-in-the-Middle attacks, spyware, ransomware, even crypto-jacking. A VPN for PC devices is one of the viable programs to consider.
It encrypts your entire connection to a network, making it virtually impossible for outsiders to intercept your connection. Additionally, even if someone manages to capture details in transit, encryption will prevent snoopers from reading them.
VPNs also have other perks, such as unlocking access to geo-restricted or censored content, but they’re a vital layer of protection that will keep your Windows PC safe.
Adjust your online behavior
In most instances, you are your own worst enemy regarding PC security. Clicking on suspicious email links, adding random strangers to your social media, opening weird messages, and installing software from unreliable websites are all much more common mistakes than you may think.
Even if you know all these dos and don’ts of proper online behavior, phishing scams have become more sophisticated. Therefore, it has become easier to fall for them. For instance, fake Microsoft warnings have been around for years. However, people can still believe them,
Double-check the information and details in the emails, sign in to your bank account directly on your bank’s website, not by clicking on the link in the email, and don’t share sensitive information with internet strangers.
Don’t neglect software updates
Software updates exist for a reason. Yes, they can be inconvenient or introduce new, unwanted features, but you should always get them. Even the simplest Windows update can often contain critical security patches that fix easily exploitable problems. Moreover, it can include new anti-virus and firewall rules that can make or break your cybersecurity.
If you’re using an older version of Windows, the chances are that you’re more vulnerable to a cyberattack. And that’s true for almost every piece of software you have installed on your PC.
So, set up automatic software updates and make sure you’re always on the latest version.
Be serious with your passwords
Is your password (for any account) the name of your first pet combined with your birth date? Have you shared images of your first pet on Instagram, hashtagged their name, and along the way, allowed all your Facebook friends to get a notification on your birthday? That’s how someone can collect enough information to guess your passwords.
The easiest way for anyone to get your password is by using your publicly-available information – birthday, stress address, name of your favorite TV character – and making a guess.
If you want to protect your Windows PC, you need to be serious with your passwords. They should all be unique (if you have 23 different online accounts, you need 23 different passwords), random, and impossible to guess.
Ideally, you’ll want to use a reliable password manager that can help you create and memorize strong passwords, then take things a step further by combining it with two-factor authentication where available.
Improving your PC’s cybersecurity isn’t nearly as difficult as it may seem, nor does it have to be very expensive. With VPNs, better passwords, updated software, and more, you’ll find it much easier to keep your PC protected and your sensitive information private.