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Lomita Locksmith-5 Simple (and Free) Steps to a Secure PC

secure pc

This post is originally authored at the home security blog at family + home security.

In today’s age of digitized information, it is essential to ensure your personal data remains secure. Thousands of people each year are victims of identity theft, often because their digital personal information has been compromised. Fortunately, there is an easy five-step process that you can follow to keep your computer secure. This can be done for free, and can be accomplished in a few minutes.

Step One to a Secure PC: Make Sure Windows Update is on Automatic

Windows Update is responsible for keeping your PC up-to-date. It provides you with security fixes, malware definition updates, and patches for known exploits. A large percentage of viruses are designed to target older versions of Windows. Hackers know that most people do not bother updating, so the odds of successfully infecting a target computer are still fairly high. Stay out of that majority by keeping Windows updated at all times.

Go to the Start Menu, type ‘Windows Update’ in the search box, and select the first option that appears. On the left side of the following window, click ‘Change Settings’ and under ‘Important Updates’ select ‘Install updates automatically’. Click the ‘OK’ button to save your changes.

Step Two to a Secure PC: Install Antivirus Software

Although an up-to-date Windows system has a good level of security, it is still highly recommended that you install an effective antivirus program. In general, you have two options: you can purchase an antivirus program, or choose a free option. One of the most popular free antivirus programs is Avast! Free Antivirus.

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If you choose to pay for your antivirus software instead, you can also refer to our article: “5 Computer Security Tips” for links to other antivirus programs.

Step Three to a Secure PC: Install Antispyware Software (XP Only)

If  you’re one of the many computer users that is still running Windows XP, it is essential that you have spyware protection. Unlike newer Windows operating systems, XP does not have a built-in spyware program. Each time you browse the web, you most likely will pick up spyware.  Fortunately, Microsoft published Windows Defender as a free download to provide an added level of spyware protection in Windows XP.

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Click the “Get it Now” button, and follow the recommended settings to install the program. If you have installed Avast! Free Antivirus, you will actually be protected against spyware as well, since it is included with the software. NOTE: If you have Windows Vista or Windows 7, you already have Windows Defender installed on your system.

The XP Interface for Windows Defender.

Step Four to a Secure PC: Use a Secure Web Browser

The default browser for Windows is Internet Explorer (IE). While this is most likely the browser you are most familiar with, it is actually one of the least secure browsers available today. There are plenty of better options, all free. Choosing between them is a matter of preference. Google Chrome is the fastest, Mozilla Firefox is the most customizable, and Opera has the highest performance. All three options have better sercurity than Internet Explorer.

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Execute the setup program, and install with the recommended settings. When you run the browser for the first time, you can import data from Internet Explorer, such as your bookmark folders.

Step Five to a Secure PC: Be Wary of Public Networks

When traveling, finding an internet connection can be a bit of a challenge. However, it is still possible to find unsecured networks, which you can connect to without providing a special password. It’s tempting to leech off of these networks to get some free on-the-go internet access.

Connecting to an unsecure network is actually a lot more dangerous than many people realize. Because the information that is sent over the network is not encrypted, anyone can “sniff out” packets of data and collect lots of sensitive information. Unfortunately, not all websites conceal the data that you send them. If another person is also connected to the same network, they could theoretically acquire all kinds of personal information. This could include passwords, bank acount numbers, or sensitive login information.

If you absolutely must connect to an unsecure network, make sure you do not access any websites that handle sensitive information. Be certain your firewall is active and running, and be sure you don’t have any files or folders shared without a password. By default, all of these settings should already be in place, unless you manually changed them.

screenshot: source

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This post is originally authored at the home security blog at family + home security.

Category: Home Security