In 2018, it’s almost impossible to enjoy the full benefits of owning a personal computer if you aren’t connected to the internet. However, while the world wide web is such a useful and wonderful tool, it’s also a haven for a universe of hackers, viruses, scams, and tons of other security risks, so using an unprotected PC in such an environment is something comparable to paddling a boat in a sea infested with crocodiles, sharks and other dangerous animals.
But don’t wait until you’re affected; prevention is always better than trying to cure. After installing any of the Windows (7, 8, 10, etc.), do well to follow these seven steps to keep your PC safe in a dangerous e-world.
- Update your Windows operating system
This is the first thing that should be on your mind even while your Windows is still installing. Once done, check if there are any recent security updates and patches, and make sure you are updated to the latest ones. Navigate to the Control Panel and enable automatic updating system. If you use Windows 10, you can easily do this by using Cortana to search for Windows Update.
Cyber criminals are always on the prowl to take advantage of holes in users’ PCs, so always ensure your OS has the latest security updates. And, as an extra safety layer, contact a professional to patch up your software.
- Make sure your software is up to date
Your Windows OS isn’t the only thing that needs updating. Your software does too. Your PC is a function of the central engine (OS) and its parts (software). You need to ensure that all your apps and programs are updated. It is important to note that the most widely used software applications are the ones with the most threats; software like Adobe, Word, Flash Player, etc.) So, if you are using outdated versions, your computer will be highly at risk. Installing a reputable antivirus program is a very crucial process in fighting cyber-attacks and safe surfing.
Windows 10 comes with a native antivirus app called Windows Defender that also doubles as a firewall. It works well to clean your PC in cases of infection and keep malware already in your computer from interacting with the internet from your end. You can install other options if Windows Defender is too limited for you. There are plenty other very effective antivirus options available, but keep in mind that no antivirus offers 100 percent protection. However, it will ease your mind to know that there’s an ever-present barrier between you and danger. Use your antivirus to conduct regular scans of your entire computer, scan any new files you introduce into your system, every new flash drive you connect, and every download you make. Most importantly, always make sure you are using the latest version.
- Backup your files
I can’t stress this enough. It’s important to be security conscious against threats from the internet, but you should also have a backup plan for the event that you aren’t able to prevent data loss. No one hopes for this, but if your computer gets stolen, you haven’t lost everything.
While it is advisable to use a password each time you restart your PC, also consider backing up your important files in a remote location so that if you lose them, you can always retrieve them. There must be some things that’ll wreck you if you lose them. I remember when I got robbed and lost the manuscript of my book. I felt like I was going to die.
Also, you need to encrypt your sensitive files so that even if someone successfully gains illegitimate access to them, a secret vault will still be standing in their way.
- Create a Restore Point
Once you’ve updated your security settings, you should think of creating a Restore Point in Windows. How to do this is simple: navigate to the Control Panel via System and Maintenance, or just search for it in Windows 10 from Cortana. In the Control panel, click on System protection and select the Create option. Then you can continue installing your drivers and applications.
Creating a Restore Point is important in the case that any of the system’s drivers become problematic, all you need to do is to locate your Restore Point.
- Protect yourself against spyware
Spyware simply includes any software that installs in your computer to monitor your browsing activity. They typically send you pop-ups that redirect you to potentially malicious websites on clicking. You know your PC is under spyware attack if it shows any (or a combination of all) these symptoms:
- Computer is slow, lags when starting up applications. Sometimes it might even freeze and show error reports.
- You always encounter pop-ups while surfing the net.
- Your search engine or Home page changes all of a sudden.
- You see a new toolbar in your web browser that you did not create yourself.
You can take a few steps to ensure you are safe from spyware. First off all, be wary of the links you click and avoid clicking on suspicious links. When a pop-up appears, never click it. Don’t be click happy, so you don’t click by mistake. Also try to limit the way you make free downloads links; those are usually crawling from pop-ups.
Alternatively, there are lots of free apps that you can use to find out the destination of a link before you click; take advantage of them.
- Enable User Account Control
User Account Control is a necessary control feature of Windows that monitor important changes are made to your PC. It’s the reason why you get pop-ups requesting administrator permission each time you install a program, remove an application or try to run an app as administrator. It can be a bother, but instead of turning it off, just decrease its intensity level in Control Panel. User Account Control will make sure suspicious malware you may have downloaded don’t make changes to the system without your knowing.
- Try to limit your use of administrator account
If you run all your software as administrator all the time, you are giving the apps unrestricted and unlimited access to your computer/domain. If malware or other malicious code gains access to your PC, they also get unrestricted access thereby increasing its capability to ruin your system and attack others in your network.
If you follow these steps, it’s very unlikely that your PC will run into problems online. But it is not a cure-all. Try not to fiddle too much with anything you don’t understand clearly. If you run into any issues, don’t fail to consult an expert.
Ikechukwu Anyaogu is a Digital Marketer, blogger, writer and Chief Editor at passionentrepreneurs.com and also the founder of Elevatals.com — A digital marketing Agency that helps B2B Brands build strong digital presence through digital marketing solutions.