We use computer constantly in our work and daily life, as a result it becomes quite important to keep computing safe from current and future threats. These 7 quick and easy tips I am about to explain will help protect your hardware, software, and data in your computer running Windows.
1. Updates Windows Automatically. If your PC has been off for a few days, don’t wait for Windows automatically updates for you. You should better first visit Windows Update site when you surf the Internet. Also, there may be a lag between when a patch is available and when Windows Update pushes it to you. Microsoft releases Windows patches on the second Tuesday of each month, so to be safe check for updates manually every couple of weeks. And don’t forget to set your antivirus and anti-spyware tools to update automatically (or check weekly for updates yourself).
2. Don’t Allow “Hide File Extensions for Known File Types”: Some viruses pretend as harmless file types by adding a bogus extension near the end of their name, as in “funnycartoon.jpg.exe,” in hopes your system is set to hide such extensions you see ‘.jpg’ but not ‘.exe’. To make these troublemakers easier to spot, open Windows Explorer or any folder window and click Tools >> Folder Options >> View. Make sure that “Hide file extensions for known file types” option is unchecked.
3. Enable and Configure a Firewall: A firewall is a device that controls the flow of information between your computer and the internet, similar to a router. Most modern operating systems include a software firewall. In addition to the operating system’s firewall, the majority of home routers have a firewall built in. Refer to your user’s guide for instructions on how to enable your firewall. Once your firewall is enabled, consult the user’s guide to learn how to configure the security settings and set a strong password to protect it against unwanted changes.
4. Install and Use Antivirus and Antispyware Software: Installing an antivirus and antispyware software program and keeping it up to date is a critical step in protecting your computer. Many types of antivirus and antispyware software can detect the possible presence of malware by looking for patterns in the files or memory of your computer. This software uses virus signatures provided by software vendors to look for malware. New malware is discovered daily, and vendors frequently make new signatures available, so 3antivirus software will be most effective if the signatures are up to date. Many antivirus and antispyware programs offer automatic updating. Enable that feature so your software always has the most current signatures. If automatic updates aren’t offered, be sure to install the software from a reputable source, like the vendor’s website or a CD from the vendor.
5. Remove Unnecessary Software: Unnecessary software increases the opportunities for attack. Intruders can attack your computer by exploiting software vulnerabilities (that is, flaws or weaknesses), so the less software you have installed, the fewer avenues for potential attack. Check the software installed on your computer. If you don’t know what a software program does and don’t use it, research it to determine whether it’s necessary. Remove any software you feel isn’t necessary after confirming the software is safe to be removed. Back up important files and data before removing unnecessary software in case you accidentally remove software essential to the operating system. If possible, locate the installation media for the software in case that someday you need to reinstall it.
6. Modify Unnecessary Default Features: Like removing unnecessary software and disabling nonessential services, modifying unnecessary default features eliminates opportunities for attack. Review the features that came enabled by default on your computer and disable or customize those you don’t need or plan on using. As with nonessential services, be sure to research these features before disabling or modifying them. The AutoRun feature in Microsoft Windows systems was a default feature at the time of the Conficker malware and was one of the three ways computers became infected. When the AutoRun feature is enabled on Windows computers, Windows detects when removable media, such as CDs and USB storage devices, are inserted into the computer and automatically executes the media’s contents.
7. Scan attachments for viruses: Run each of the e-mail attachments you receive through your antivirus software before you open them. Rather than double-clicking the attachment to open it instantly, save the file to a drive on your PC, open Windows Explorer, right-click the file, and choose the option to scan it for viruses. (Better yet, set your antivirus software to scan incoming and outgoing e-mail automatically.)