The following computer security tips are important to follow. Microsoft Windows has been in the news a lot lately and not for good reasons. Computer security is once again in the forefront of Windows-bashing commercials and other negative propaganda. Conficker is the latest in the wave upon wave of viruses and malware devastating the PC community. Just how can normal people protect themselves if they are using computers? We are listing some of our top suggestions and tools for keeping Windows clean. Follow these computer security tips.
Computer Security Tips – Update Windows!
Updating Windows is the primary defense against viruses and malware. Users of more modern version of Windows can specify in the Security Center to have updates automatically download and install. There is a setting, however, to have updates download and NOT install. This is probably due to businesses wanting to control what is pushed through in an update. For instance, some companies may not want Internet Explorer 8 to automatically install because it could break the way they do business. But if you’re a home user, there really is no reason not to have Windows download and install updates automatically. If you do not let Windows handle it, you could find yourself behind in security patches and your system might already be compromised. If you try to visit Windows Update but can’t, you might already be infected. Try running a scan from http://safety.live.com/ to make sure you’re not.
Change Your Email Account
It’s not a bad idea to change your email account every year or two. It is only a matter of time before you get on some type of mailing list. With Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and other free services available, you can create new accounts quite easily. This helps purge yourself from mailing lists that hackers buy and send you phishing emails and attachments that contain viruses. Since email and attachments are the primary mode for worms to propagate, making your email address a moving target will help keep you off their radar.
Change Your Password
One of the most important Windows security tips is your password. Change it and make sure it is secure. You can use a password checker to test it’s strength. Also, consider coming up with a system to help you remember. A strong password will have upper and lower case letters, numbers and even symbols. You can use something like “TiMhPt2P!”. In this password example, we used the first letter from this phrase: “This is my hard password thanks to PCTechBytes!”. We alternated upper and lowercase, used the number two to represent “to” and put an exclamation point on the end for a symbol. It’s also more than eight characters, which is considered the minimum for a password. Using the password checker, this was considered STRONG.
Do not run as Administrator
Windows users are generally logged in as Administrator unless they specifically create an account and make it a Limited User. Malware and viruses have a harder time installing themselves in this mode, so make sure you create a Limited User account. When you need to install something, you can often right-click the install file and choose “run-as” to login as the Administrator. Occasionally, you may need to restart and login as Administrator to install a program. You should do the same in Vista, but do not disable the “annoying” UAC (User Account Control) that pops up wanting a confirmation when changes are made to this system. UAC is there to help protect you.
Computer Security Tips – Reinstall Windows
This is the biggest pill for most users to swallow. But we have to assume that eventually any system will become infected with some type of malware. In order to ensure that you are not operating on a system for an extended period of time, you really should reinstall or perform a factory System Recovery every year. Consider it Spring Cleaning. Windows really will run faster and you’ll be getting rid of things you don’t want or need anymore. It also forces you to backup regularly, which you should be doing anyway. Keeping your data backed-up, keeping your system disks organized, and having a reinstall system in place (complete with serial numbers and passwords for Windows and other major applications) will ensure the reinstall goes quick and easy. After the reinstall, make sure you immediately visit Microsoft Update.
For more computer security tips, read our other security articles. If you have any questions about your computer’s security, let us know.