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5 Internet Safety Tips to Keep Your PC Secure Online

By Anna Lind 30 August 2014 in Privacy & Security

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.

windows update

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.

web of trust

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.

windows firewall

The Windows Firewall works just fine, is free and is most likely already on your computer.

windows firewall advanced settings

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.

windows logon screen

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.

Auto Pilot mode in Auslogics Antivirus

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.

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About the Author

Anna Lind Anna Lind
Anna's passion is helping novice users understand computers and software better.

Discussion

When it comes to Internet safety for kids I would also recommend using a monitoring tool. I currently use Qustodio and I get along just fine with it. It helps me block certain websites and also has a very useful social media feature.
Angela
September 9th, 2012 @05:13 am
Reply
+1
Thank you very much Anna for this summary. It is clear and efficient. I give you four stars for your article.
Then I learn something new this morning with WOT tool.
Philippe
October 23rd, 2012 @05:32 am
Reply
+1
Sir,

NO WORDS TO TELL
Ashok Samrat
August 24th, 2013 @05:45 am
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+1
is it possible to create partition in the hard disk so that they work independently, even the deadliest of the virus effecting one partition could not effect the other.if yes then how???
niks
September 3rd, 2013 @01:09 am
Reply
+1
I own a Toshiba 450 Satellite, about 3.5 - 4 years old n use it daily. Of late when I do a boot scan I see many 'corrupted files' yet the scan doesn't stop except for 2 or 3 times w choice of delete / delete all / repair / repair all etc. How to remove or repair these now many corrupted files n regain clean n brisk usage.
thanx ahead . . .
[Due to a serious workplace injury I really need to access free products or learn personal solutions . ]
Scot.
October 1st, 2013 @08:59 pm
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0
1/2/14
Both the defrag topic and this topic were very helpful and informative to me in order to keep my pc running well. Thanks Hal.
H. Johnston
January 1st, 2014 @10:30 pm
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0
Thanks!
Sergey
August 25th, 2014 @03:59 am
Reply
+1
Sections 2 and 3 are a bit minimalistic and need additional data.

The Web of Trust [aka "WOT"] has a useful database of opinions from a wide variety of surfers; however, many antivirus/antimalware software producers also maintain their own databases. Bitdefender, Norton/Symantec, and AVG, might be the most useful, though Virus Total polls about 69 [January 2017] such databases to construct their reports on any domain name one might wish to offer.

The Windows firewall might be a good attempt at protecting a computer from uninvited surprises, but it would be more useful to list where to get more a useful picture of what is available. AV Comparatives and AV Test are two useful sources of information.

Unfortunately, the Windows firewall needs other tools, or continual updating, to add outbound protection to inbound.

The ZoneAlarm firewall once provided a very educational, real-time, display of "dropped" data packets. It was once possible to sit and watch ZoneAlarm report an ignored data packet from a remote source, and it did not require much time to become acquainted with the regular callers, or watch two Internet worms wander about the globe; first emanating from one place or another before appearing at another location, having found and infected machines which exposed Microsoft's insecure and exploitable SQL Server to data packets which were sent by a previous infection to an easily manufactured IP address. Unfortunately, Check Point did not understand the utility of this display, and it was dropped when ZoneAlarm was 'modernised' to give it a less useful user interface. However, Check Point Software now provide an example of the next best thing with a "Live Cyber Attack Threat Map"!
John
January 18th, 2017 @09:30 pm
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0

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