7 Computer Security Tips

This article was originally written for ArrowQuick Solutions, a technology consultancy for small businesses.

Viruses and other malicious software are responsible for many computer problems and torment. There are innumerable products out there that offer solutions, but not all of them are legitimate. Some, like biometric password protectors, encrypted hard drives, and GPS trackers, are overkill for most users. Here are the seven most effective ways to protect your computer.

Use an anti-virus program and keep it updated. Be sure to turn on email scanning, or use a reliable email service that checks for viruses. There are many good options to choose from; AVG, Antivir, and Avast all offer free versions for home users.

Use an anti-malware program and keep it updated. A specialized program for removing advertising software (adware), spyware, and similar malicious software is better than a generic security suite. Windows comes with Windows Defender, but we recommend using additional software in conjunction with Defender. Again, there are a lot of free options for home users: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, Ad-Aware, and Spybot Search & Destroy are some of the most popular.

Use a firewall. Firewalls watch all data coming into and going out from your computer. They can block any traffic that you don’t explicitly allow, and can alert you to unknown software that is using your network connection. A router placed between your computer and your ISP will act as an effective hardware firewall. You can also install software firewalls on your computer: Windows Vista and OS X both come with good firewall software (look under the Network or Security settings in the control panel). Windows XP’s firewall is not quite as good, but Comodo and Zonealarm offer free versions for home users.

Keep your operating system up-to-date. Both Microsoft and Apple regularly release security updates and service packs for their operating systems. Windows and OS X can be scheduled to remind you or even automate the entire process.

Secure your WiFi network. If you have a wireless network, make sure it requires a password for access. Otherwise any attacker will be able to steal your data or pose as you.

Backup your data. A good backup solution is probably the best preventative measure, because you can always restore your computer to its most recent uninfected state.

Be smart. A little tech savvy and common sense goes a long way. Don’t open spam messages or mysterious email attachments. Be wary of strange pop-up windows and unknown websites in general. Never give out personal information unless a website is credible, secure, and legitimate.

If you need help securing your home or business computers, ArrowQuick offers a comprehensive lineup of services:

  • Security software installation and configuration
  • Computer clean-ups and maintenance
  • Networking setup
  • Backup solutions
  • Technology training

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