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windows security tips

There are many safety features built into Windows. However, in this day and age, when technology grows rapidly and even school children have basic knowledge of computers, users have to be smart to protect their data and systems. Taking into account that aside from the basic use we now share data, work from locations other than the office, and have portable devices that are easily stolen, we have to take additional security measures.

Some of these measures are very simple, yet people have become so complacent that they neglect the obvious. You must set up your system to require a password when powering up from sleep mode. People will hesitate taking your laptop or iPad if they touch it and it asks for a password.

Protect your network

If you are using Wi-Fi and working with sensitive data, consider going to the control panel and setting up a VPN connection. This keeps people from being able to poke around in your computer.

There are several companies that offer these services, so do a bit of research to find the one you are happy with. Cyber Ghost has a free service to easily set up a VPN connection and a moderately priced plan for more bells and whistles.

Not sure whether you need a VPN or how to choose one that suits you best? Make sure to check out our articles and reviews of the best VPN services.

Carefully choose your passwords

passwords
Image credit: Trojan IT

You should change the password every three months and do not use obvious passwords like the word “password.” Do not share your password with anyone. Use different passwords for your desktop, mobile device or laptop. The change is done easily in the settings section of your computer. Do not use the same password on every site. Use a different combination of caps and numbers as well and never use your social security number or driver’s license number.

Keep your antivirus and antimalware updated

Make sure you are current on your spyware, malware, and antivirus protection. You should run a check on your system every week. There are several free plans you can use, but there are some top-of-the-line programs that are reasonably priced. Do not neglect using the built-in programs in the Windows 7 and up.

Be very careful when using free programs. Some of them will give you a fake virus alert and tell you to provide a credit card number to upgrade the program and take care of it.

Do your homework. Know what that virus code means. Do not let anyone scare you into buying something you do not need.

Turn off auto play

If your system automatically allows auto play, there is a chance that something can get into your system through that program without you noticing until it is too late. Noting should play automatically on your system.

Layer your protection

firewall
Image Credit: Bruno Pedrozo via Wikipedia

Do not depend on one security program to cover all your bases. Basically, if a computer geek gets into your system, he only has to break one layer. Use Firewalls and check your settings often to ensure you are protected. Remove unused downloads and uploads that are no longer needed. Keep your system tidy and clean. Be careful about what you download. Make sure your Windows programs are updated and being used properly. It is a good idea to enable automatic Windows updates. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your data secure.

One thing people forget to do is to update their web browsers. Explorer, FireFox and the others are continually being updated. If you are using an outdated browser you are not taking advantage of the latest security improvements.

Update your browser at least a few times a year (or better as soon as there is an update released). Windows 7 and Vista users need to update Internet Explorer to current status as fast as possible. Or better switch to something more secure like Chrome or Firefox.

Do not work with an administrator account

When you are setting up your system for the first time, you set yourself up as the administrator. But after that, you would be more secure to set yourself up as a “user” and log-in as a user. If someone is going to hack your system, they will hack the administrator first. Most of us have all roads leading to our administrator status. You can prevent that by signing on as a regular user.

Back up important data

backup hard drive
Image Credit: Harke via Wikipedia

Of course, there are several ways to handle your backups. The old-fashion way of storing your precious data on a flash drive or a CD is very reliable in most cases. There are companies that you can pay to automatically save a copy of the data on your system periodically.

Store flash drives or CDs in a safe place. Storing sensitive data on a removable hard drive is also an easy way to secure information, as long as the hard drive can be stored in a safe and fireproof way.

Use popular and reliable apps

Adobe Reader 11 is currently the safest PDF reader available. It is secure and works with Windows to get updates. Make sure to remove older versions when a new one is installed.

Another thing to remember is that Java Script is dangerous! If you can do without it, remove it.

Internet Explorer 10 is fantastic in terms of security. It is equal to Google Chrome Corporate, which is far better than the standard version. Set up the browser so that it deletes tracking cookies for added security.

So that’s it for our general security tips for Windows users. Do you have something to add? Share your tips in comments below!

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