Do you have a good antivirus program installed on your computer? If you do - great! This is an important and necessary step in protecting your PC from cyber threats. However, it is not the only thing you can do and you should not rely on antivirus software alone for keeping your system secure. Here are a few tips that can help ensure your Windows system never falls victim to cyber criminals.
1. Be sure to install Windows updates, at least the ones that are marked important.
Yes, you may be annoyed by the notifications, the need to reboot your computer and the occasional errors that happen with those updates, but it is something that really helps keep your PC safe from malware. Many viruses are designed to use vulnerabilities in the operating system to get through to your hard drive. By regularly updating your operating system you’ll be sure to get the latest security patches as they are released by Microsoft.
2. Learn and always exercise safe browsing habits.
This means not clicking on suspicious links, not opening email messages unless you know who the message came from, and not downloading anything from sources, whose reliability you are not absolutely sure about. If it’s hard for you to tell if a link is safe to click on, install a browser add-on that rates website safety and shows safety rating signs next to all links in your browser. Something like WOT (Web of Trust) or a similar tool could provide the added assurance you are clicking on a safe link.
3. Use a firewall in addition to antivirus software.
The Windows Firewall works just fine, is free and is most likely already on your computer.
By going to the Advanced Settings you can configure it to work just like any third-party firewall in blocking suspicious incoming or outbound traffic and informing you of its actions.
4. Create a separate user account
Create a separate user account with limited rights for anyone who uses your computer besides you, be it your kids, relatives or friends.
This will ensure that they don’t make any significant and potentially dangerous changes to your system. Having a non-administrator account for guest users means that they won’t be able to run any program that requires administrator privileges, which is what malware often requires for executing.
In a situation when your computer is used by kids or guests, it also pays to have an antivirus that does not produce any popups or require any user input. For instance, the Auto Pilot mode in Auslogics Antivirus allows having an optimal security setup that does not irritate the user making them want to turn the protection off.
In fact, you don’t see any notifications or requests for user input when the program runs on auto pilot, while it monitors all activity, blocks and neutralizes threats and makes all other security-related decisions for you. When antivirus software works this way, it ensures that the user is not tempted to disable it even temporarily, therefore making sure the shield is always up safeguarding your system.
5. Scan any external data storage device with your antivirus
Whenever you connect any external data storage device to your computer, make it a habit to scan it with your antivirus software before accessing any files on it. Even if you choose not to have internet access to avoid having your computer infected with malware, there is always this other way malware may get onto your PC. If you connect a USB drive or an SD card that’s ever been used on other computers to your PC, there is always a chance that it may have picked up a virus and may transfer it to your hard drive. Many antivirus programs scan external storage devices by default, but this is something you need to check and make sure it is set to that and actually performs the scans whenever a USB drive is plugged in.
Always having an antivirus program on, having it set to automatically update virus definitions and following the above tips should give you years of virus-free web surfing. The internet can be a safe place, or at least feel that way, and knowing that you’ve done everything you can to protect your PC from cyber threats should let you breathe easy and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with this knowledge.