10 tips on how to protect your computer from viruses and malware!

Below are some important steps you should consider to protect your computer.  While no individual step will eliminate your risk – together, these practices will minimize the threat of possible malicious exploitation.

An infographic displaying tips to show the reader different ways to protect their computer.

How to protect your computer checklist

  1. Connect to a Secure Network When your computer is connected to the Internet, it’s also connected to millions of other computers. This could give attackers access to your computer. So make sure to connect to all of the websites using SSL/TLS, and harden the devices that come with overly permissive factory-default configurations e.g., IoT devices, routers, etc – and be sure to secure them.
  2. Enable and Configure a Firewallfirewall is a device that controls the flow of information between your computer and the Internet, similar to a router. For instance, 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 – therefore have a look at their docs and set-up a strong password to restrict any unauthorized access to them.
  3. Install and Use Antivirus and Antispyware  Installing an antivirus and/or the antispyware software program and keeping it up to date is a critical step in protecting your computer. Be sure to keep them updated.
    Note: For advanced users, installing antivirus often doesn’t hold much value. This due the fact that they look after the security of their systems under the lens of their own knowledge and capabilities. For basic and regular users, this step remains critical and you are encouraged to follow it, as it will help to secure your computer at least to some extent.
  4. Remove Unnecessary SoftwareIntruders can attack your computer by exploiting software vulnerabilities (that is, flaws or weaknesses), so the less software you have installed, the fewer avenues for a potential attack. Therefore, remove any software you feel isn’t necessary after confirming that it’s safe to remove. Likewise, disabling nonessential services and modifying unnecessary default features also eliminates several opportunities for attack.
  5. Operate Under the Principle of Least PrivilegeIn most instances of a malware infection, the malware can operate only under the rights of the logged-in user. To minimize the impact the malware can have if it successfully infects a computer, consider using a standard or restricted user account for day-to-day activities and logging in with the admin account (which has full operating privileges on the system) when you need to install or remove software or change system settings on the computer.
  6. Secure Your Web Browser Web browsers installed on new computers usually don’t have secure default settings. Therefore securing your browser is a critical step in improving your computer’s security as an increasing number of attacks take advantage of web browsers. Make sure you use a trusted one and avoid unnecessary plugins/add-ons.
  7. Apply Software Updates and Enable Future Automatic UpdatesMost software vendors release updates to patch or fix vulnerabilities, flaws, and weaknesses (bugs) in their software. However, intruders can exploit these bugs to attack your computer. So keeping your software updated is important to help prevent an attack.
  8. Use Good Security Practices in the World of the Wild WebTake caution with email attachments and not trusted links. Malware is commonly spread by people clicking on an email attachment or a link that launches malware. Don’t open attachments or click on links unless you’re certain they’re safe, even if they come from a person you know. In addition, be careful when providing sensitive information online by using a secure encrypted email solution.
  9. Don’t install or use illegal and/or unauthorized software – This might compromise your data security and break the law.
  10. If it’s too sensitive, avoid keeping it in your device
    It is advised that you do not keep any data on your personal device that you or your company would deem to be very sensitive. Rather keep it in your work-device or on an external device (in encrypted form) that is not connected to any network.

Protecting your computer is one thing, there are dozens of more cyber threats out there read out more about them in our course.

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Avatar for M Salman Nadeem

M Salman Nadeem

Information Security Analyst - Security Team | Mailfence

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