Too many Microsoft Windows users make the mistake of taking their cybersecurity for granted, erroneously thinking that the developers took care of it for them. Since the number of Windows-powered devices keeps on increasing, the operating system keeps getting more and more interesting for cybercriminals to target and exploit its users. What’s worse is that even the type of users who are trying to up their cybersecurity game are running into obstacles. The materials on the subject are often vague or hard to comprehend, so that’s completely understandable.
Due to this, we’ve decided to write our own take on it and give you 5 actionable tips you can apply today. Sounds good? Then let’s get on with it:
1. Install a firewall
While it may sound complicated on paper, a firewall is nothing more than a piece of software that’s designed to protect your PC from unauthorized changes. Facing an incoming connection you don’t recognize? A firewall will block it for you. If you want to give it permission, you’ll have to enable it manually.
In the same vein, a decent firewall suite will point out every single process that attempts to make changes to your system. Unless you authorize them every step of the way, they’ll be powerless to cause any potential damage. Does this sound like a lot of work? Don’t worry – these days, most firewalls are designed to be simple to install and use. Moreover, the software will remember your decisions and also give you the option of putting trusted programs on auto-approve.
2. Be careful with what you do online
In your twilight hours, you may be tempted to visit certain dodgy websites. If you’re doing work or storing sensitive files on the same machine, the best course of action would be to avoid doing that altogether. If you must, make sure that your browser is modern and up-to-date.
If you have the option of using another non-work-related device for the purpose, even better. Your browser choices are, of course, not a trivial matter either. Exploring uncharted territories online with an outdated browser is asking for trouble. By doing it, it’s almost like you’re inviting malware to nest in your PC. It’s best to install additional security plugins for added measure.
3. Keep your connections safe with a VPN
Without this special piece of software, the webmasters can see what you do on their websites and possibly even link your actions to your real identity. Your ISP can do the same. On a related note, if taking your laptop out with you to a coffee shop to connect to a public Wi-Fi network sounds like something you often end up doing, a VPN for Windows (https://nordvpn.com/download/windows/) should be an essential part of your digital arsenal.
A VPN solves all of these issues. It works by placing every connection that you make in an encrypted tunnel. Therefore, the data you send through it is safe from those trying to intercept it. Furthermore, if you’re connected to one, no one will be able to tell your real IP.
4. Deploy an antivirus
While curative measures are not as effective as preventative ones (think in terms of using a firewall), they are an integral part of keeping your PC safe from threats. As such, using an antivirus is a must these days. Even if you think you’ve got all your bases covered, something like an infected USB flash drive might catch you off-guard. All in all, a successful antivirus scan is no guarantee that your PC is malware-free, but it’s as close as realistically possible. But don’t forget to keep it up-to-date, as using outdated pieces of software is a false illusion of security.
5. Never leave your computer unattended
Last but not least, make sure to be on guard at all times and lock your screen when you’re not there to oversee your device in person. Although so many sections of this article are built around addressing threats of digital nature, having someone compromise your computer by gaining physical access to it is a noteworthy threat. While leaving your computer unlocked at home is one thing, doing the same thing in a public place is a no-no. Either way, it’s best to develop a habit of doing it, so it becomes second nature to you without having to give it a second thought.
Since cybersecurity is a broad topic, it’s impossible to cover it in a single article. But these five tips should get you as close as possible to making a drastic change towards ensuring that your Windows PC stays safe and secure at all times.