Modern operating systems have come a long way in regard to “out of the box” security features. Many utilities like application firewalls and spyware blocking software now come native with the operating system. However, even though the utilities are preinstalled, some are overlooked and others not used at all. Here are some tips that will help keep your computer and your information safe from harm:
Keep your operating system and software up to date
Patches and other security fixes are released for all major operating systems on a regular basis. These usually have the option of being applied automatically or manually so be sure to double check your settings and apply any patches you may have missed. Other software such as your favorite media player or web browser will typically have frequent updates as well. Your computer becomes easier to compromise as your software becomes outdated because exploits in older software become increasingly well known as time goes on.
Use antivirus software and a firewall
This one should be a no-brainer, but I have seen way too many computers without any form antivirus software installed. AV software from big names like Norton can be expensive, but there are many free alternatives out there that work just as well. If you have a PC with Windows installed, Microsoft Security Essentials is a great free antivirus program worth checking out. Another frequently overlooked aspect of protecting your computer is installing a firewall. Windows and Mac OSX have application firewalls built-in, but you might want to research a more comprehensive firewall solution.
Take advantage of user account privileges
Being logged into your computer as an administrator at all times is a very bad habit that is often acquired. User accounts with different levels of privileges were developed for a reason and they provide a very real layer of security to your computer. Ensure that you log into your computer with a normal account for everyday use and only log in as an administrator or power user when absolutely necessary. More information about various authorization features can be found here.
Even though you now have more confidence in the security of your computer, don’t forget that you still need to be backing up your data!