Internet security: 10 tips for protecting your personal computer

Internet security: 10 tips for protecting your personal computer

John Black

According to an Avira report, 55% of devices have software that is not updated, 350,000 new malware programs are reported every day, 2.2 billion stolen passwords and email addresses were leaked last year in the top 5 data leaks, and 2.2 million routers were detected with vulnerabilities.

Has the Internet become one of the most dangerous places on the planet? It may well be. But you can protect yourself from all these online threats, if you take the right precautions.

Here are ten tips for protecting your personal computer:

1. Install anti-virus software 

First of all, it's essential to have a working and certified anti-virus software on your computer to block incoming malware, whether it's ransomware, traditional viruses, banking Trojans, spyware or worms. In addition, a good antivirus program will automatically repair or quarantine compromised files without any action on your part.

Once your system and applications are cleaned and updated, you can run a virus scan to better defend your system against viruses and malware.

2. Update your devices 

With the coronavirus outbreak forcing most of us to telecommute, we are now responsible for the devices we use and the data we put on them. Outdated systems and programs are vulnerable to attack. By updating your programs, you are closing security gaps and protecting your data.

Find out how to stay protected when working on an old computer. 

3. Update your browser

Make sure your browser is up to date to avoid unnecessary security risks. Most browsers such as Chrome and Firefox update automatically, but it is advisable to restart your browser regularly to make sure you are using the latest version. Prevent your browser from connecting to infected sites by adding a security plug-in like Avira's Browser Safety.

In addition, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure that you are surfing the Internet safely. Here are several reasons why you should reduce your digital footprint and how to do so.

4. Activate a firewall 

Firewalls installed on your device will help monitor traffic and protect your information. Most routers have built-in firewalls, but they often need to be enabled and their updates checked regularly. To check the status of your router's firewall, open a browser and enter the IP address of your router. Then look for an entry called "Firewall" or something similar. Follow the instructions to activate it.

Read our tips for more Wi-Fi router security.

5. Use a VPN 

A VPN (virtual private network) can allow you to create a private, encrypted space for your communications and hide your location. Using a VPN is particularly important if you need to send or share client data, financial information or other sensitive documents for work purposes. Find out how to secure your home office in 5 steps and 1 click.

Finally, speaking of unsecured networks, don't use public and unprotected Wi-Fi networks. These hotspots are easily hackable. Here are the 5 security tips to follow on public Wi-Fi networks.

6. Update all your programs 

Most of the time, vulnerabilities in a program are fixed by an update that is available shortly after (and sometimes even before) these vulnerabilities become public knowledge. Fortunately, there are programs that let you know which of your programs need to be updated.

7. Use good passwords

We have already published several articles on this blog about how to choose a good password, so just click on the link and follow the recommendations. Make sure you follow the advice given in the article. Protect your account with 2-factor authentication if possible. And if you had to follow only one piece of advice, it would be this: use a password manager. It will create secure passwords and remember them for you.

8. Protect your e-mails

Do not click on links or download unknown files, updates or applications from unknown senders. If you have any doubts about a file, use your antivirus software to scan it. And never reply to spam emails, they are a trap! Finally, beware of the latest phishing attacks linked to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Find out more tips for your online safety.

9. Shop at trusted online shops 

The coronavirus outbreak has prompted some businesses to implement a digital transformation and has changed consumer habits. But it is also a new opportunity for cyber criminals to target their victims. Think twice before entering your credit card number and all your personal information. Also beware of fraudulent e-mails that look like they come from the Post Office or other senders and inform you that "your package could not be delivered". It may be a good idea to use a dedicated e-mail address for your online purchases.

10. Back up your data regularly

Once you have secured your connection and Internet activities, it is a good idea to get into the habit of regularly scheduling a backup of your data. By creating a backup of your data, you will have a clean version of your files in case of a virus infection. Before restoring your files, run a virus scan to ensure that the backed up files have not been compromised.

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