If you use your computer for things such has banking, keeping track of finances through accounting software or any other sensitive activities like that, then you need to make sure your computer is safe instead of hoping that the manufacturer took care of locking things down for you. Below are five simple things you can do to dramatically increase the security on your personal computer.
- Check the status of the Windows Security Center. All of the recommended settings should be enabled. On Windows Vista, click on start > control panel > security > security center to view the settings. For a more detailed guide, click here On Windows 7, click on start > control panel > system and security > review your system’s status. For a video guide, click here.
- Manually tell Windows to install updates. If there is a problem with automatic updates or you have malware blocking them from working properly, the security center might display a false message that everything is OK. If you try manually running the update scan and it fails, you will see a message displayed. For a detailed guide from Microsoft, for Windows Vista, click here. For Windows 7, click here.
- Check your antivirus subscription status and verify that it says you have the latest virus definitions. The Windows Security Center will only go as far as checking that you have an antivirus program installed, but in many cases, it cannot give you any more details than that, unless you use Microsoft’s free security essentials program. For detailed instructions on how to check those settings on your particular antivirus program, visit the manufacturer website or look through the built-in help file. Since this is a common procedure, chances are very good that they will have detailed instructions or even free support if you’re a paid customer.
- If you use a wireless router at home, secure your connection with a password. Even if you do not have a problem with providing free internet access to your neighbors, you are sharing more than just free service. You are essentially making their computers and devices part of your home network. This could potentially allow viruses from their computer spread to yours, unauthorized access to your personal files and network-connected home entertainment center. Moreover, if they use your connection to conduct illegal activities such as downloading copyrighted music, videos, etc. You could find yourself having to explain things to the authorities.
- Last but not least, take advantage of all the free help on the internet. I have an upcoming article titled, “How To Get Free Tech Support.” In there, I have lots of tips for getting quality support, for free. You can also ask basic questions on the Yahoo! answers website, where people can point you in the right direction or post a comment here and I will monitor this article for about a year from its publication date to answer questions.