If you’ve spent any amount of time using the internet to create a spreadsheet, check your bank statements or surf the web, you are familiar with the dangers lurking around every corner of the internet.
Every click of an internet link can take you to a beautiful place or a dark alley. Always remember that you are taking a chance of having your identity stolen or redirected to an unsavory web page looking to steal your data whenever you are online.
Never fear because I will show you 3 easy ways to protect your computer online.
1. Apply Windows Updates
Windows Updates can be a gift and curse. The gift is - you get all the security patches for your system and you may see improvements with your computers performance. The curse – well, sometimes Microsoft Updates will break your computer. Now, I am not trying to scare you but this does happen from time to time. Regardless, you should always apply the latest and greatest windows updates to your system for complete functionality. Also, depending on which version of Windows you have (Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10), you can set your updates to automatically download and install to your system. If you are using Windows 10, you no longer have the choice to pick “which” Updates you want to install. Windows 10 updates are an all or nothing type of deal. Microsoft will provide you with the updates that closes security vulnerabilities that exist in the wild. Also, Microsoft will provide a few updates for your connected hardware (printers, USB keyboard and Mice) and other software improvements to your system for stability.
2. Make sure your Anti-Virus software is installed and updated
If you are connected to the internet you must have an Anti-Virus program installed and updated consistently. There are a few free Anti-Virus programs on the market including Microsoft’s own – Windows Defender. Bitdefender and Avast have a few free options to choose from as well. If you need to spend a little cash for your Anti-Virus to stay protected I recommend Malwarebytes or Emsisoft. They’re both great products and will not hamper your computers performance like a few other well-known Anti-Virus products on the market. If you choose to use a free or paid option, you must make sure your Anti-Virus stays up-to-date with the latest updates. Hackers create and exploit new vulnerabilities daily to try to steal your data. Luckily most Anti-Virus products usually stay on the ball with new software updates to keep you safe.
3. Install “3rd-Party Software Updates”
Previously, we discussed applying Windows updates to keep your computer safe, but an often-overlooked area is 3rd party software updates. 3rd party software are Non-Microsoft programs that run on your computer; such as iTunes, Adobe Reader, Flash Player and Google Chrome for productivity. Often hackers use a vulnerability within a 3rd party software program to steal your data. You can use a free utility called “Ninite” to manually update your software packages. There is also another program I recommend called “Patch My PC”, that will scan your computer and list all your programs that need updates and apply them all at once.
Even though there is no guaranteed way to stop all hackers and viruses in today’s always connected world, if you follow these 3 easy steps on a consistent basis you can increase your chances of staying safe online and protecting your data.